Hello and welcome
Hello and welcome to Philly Talks Climate — where we talk about the climate crisis, how it affects Philadelphia, and how we solve this for our region. I’m Meenal Raval, and I’ll be your host.
Last week’s episode talked about fracking, how unconventional gas drilling is fracturing our state, and that it’s time we banned fracking altogether.
News You Can Use
You will likely have heard discussions — about the future of the refinery site in South Philadelphia. Of note is that the City of Philadelphia has stepped into the bankruptcy discussions.
Basically, the city wanted to be “as informed and included as possible” in the sale process. They also wanted to be present and consulted at the potential auction. Quote — “given the city’s duty to consider the future use of the nearly 1,400-acre site and how its future use will impact Philadelphia’s economy, environment, and public health and safety.”
The City’s request for this was granted by bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross. As a result, the city will be informed of the identity of any qualified bidders. A confidentiality agreement means, unfortunately, we won’t get to know who the bidders are.
This week’s news you can use began with something a professor said at a public hearing.
The hearing was last Friday’s City Council hearing about future uses of the refinery site, with about 20 people testifying — near residents, academics, labor, environmental groups, and concerned citizens.
The professor was Mark Allan Hughes of UPenn’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, who interpreted what Judge Gross said about the City’s participation in the bankruptcy proceedings.
Professor Hughes highlighted how the City could claim their power to do the right thing.
He explained how the City could use this bankruptcy as a policy hook, on the basis of the City’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, and the millions of dollars of Federal, State and City funds currently spent for environmental justice remediation (think public health issues) and workforce development.
Professor Hughes suggested that the City use the leverage offered by Judge Gross.
- The Judge said that the public’s concerns are appropriate,
- The Judge hopes with the City participating in the discussions, our concerns would be included in the discussions with future buyers, and
- The Judge suggested we communicate our concerns thru the City, and hopes this would be sufficient to resolve our concerns.
It was indeed surprising that a bankruptcy judge offered this. The professor’s testimony ended by reminding Council that local standards for air pollution can exceed state standards.
Hear Professor Hughes for yourself…
[insert audio from https://youtu.be/w6ru9qQyR0E?t=8776]
As he ended, the audience shouted to Council — Claim Your Power!
We went looking for quotes from Kevin Gross, the bankruptcy judge. Both came from 2 local articles — the The Inquirer and WHYY from November 14th. Quote:
“I recognize the concerns that residents of Philadelphia have, it’s appropriate,” Judge Gross said. He added that he hopes the city’s participation as a consultation party includes the concerns of the community.
Gross suggested that [we] could communicate [our] its concerns through the city, now that it is an official participant in the process. “I’m hoping this is sufficient,” he said.
So, what can we do between now and the auction in mid-January? How do we engage on this?
We could thank our City representatives….
- for their initiative in participating in the bankruptcy process,
- for their continued pressure on fossil fuel companies that may want to buy the refinery site,
- for considering all of our concerns voiced over the many community meetings this summer and fall.
This Thanksgiving weekend, many of us will be calling Mayor Jim Kenney as well as City Council members. Especially Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson since the refinery site is in his district.
How to connect with others concerned about the climate crisis?
If you’re listening to this live, you’ll know that today is the day after Thanksgiving. Some folks call it Black Friday and head off shopping, to buy gifts not needed. Some other folks call it Buy Nothing Day, a day to avoid buying more and more unneeded items for our loved ones.
The climate crisis calls for reduced material consumption, especially of stuff we don’t really need. So, opt to go outside on Buy Nothing Day, instead of inside to the malls or the internet.
And on Saturday, head over to Edgmont Township in Chester County, to support residents calling for a Cease & Desist on Sunoco’s work on the Mariner East II pipeline
The closing quote this week was found in the British magazine Resurgence / Ecologist. Here it is…
“In nature’s economy… the currency is not money, it is life.” — Vandana Shiva, Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability and Peace
Mavis Staple’s Action
- Nov 26, 2019 — City of Philadelphia — A Close Call and an Uncertain Future: An assessment of the past, present, and next steps for Philadelphia’s largest refinery — Brian Abernathy and Adam Thiel, City of Philadelphia
- Nov 22, 2019 — Philadelphia City Council — video recording of the Nov 22nd hearing and direct link to start of Mark Allan Hughes testimony
- Nov 14, 2019 — WHYY — Future owner of PES refinery could be decided as soon as January
- Nov 14, 2019 — The Philadelphia Inquirer — City of Philadelphia will get a seat at the table at auction for city’s bankrupt refinery
- Oct 17, 2019 — The Philadelphia Inquirer — Court allows bankrupt Philly refiner to award secret bonuses