The fossil fuel economy is robbing our community’s right to breath and our children’s future, and is hastening climate change, which will exacerbate Philadelphia’s housing, energy, health and economic insecurities.
Because of SEPTA’s development of a natural gas station in Nicetown, Philadelphia, Gas Works’ (PGW) proposal to expand liquefied natural gas in Southwest Philly, or Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) refinery, Black and Brown residents disproportionately face increased rates of asthma and cancer.
Further, the expansion of these fossil-fuel plants not only threaten our health and our lives, but they also come at expense of Philadelphia residents’ wallets; for instance, Philadelphia Energy Solutions owes $3.8 Billion to the state in back-taxes!
At a time of worsening climate crisis and economic inequity in our city, we do not need to be investing in fossil fuels that will only make the problem worse.
Our fossil fuel infrastructure is old, antiquated, and making us sick, while the natural gas and petroleum industries reap profits at our expense and hold a heavy influence over our elected officials in the city and across the state. This is making policy solutions that incubate and fund community-driven solutions around renewable energy even more difficult at a time when we must be investing in them.
While renewable energy is a critical step towards a better city, the access to renewable energy ownership continues to follow the path of redlining communities: those with access to capital and housing ownership are able to participate, leaving many renters and low-income residents out of the renewable energy economy – particularly Black and Brown residents.
Pass a moratorium on the development of fossil fuel infrastructure in Philadelphia and transition the Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery to restored public land and community-owned renewable energy projects.
We need a just transition away from a fossil-fuel economy towards a renewable energy– one that is rooted in racial equity and community ownership. This transition requires centering labor and impacted communities in the plans for our future. This means that advocates, environmentalists, and our city officials must engage in deep listening, community-driven planning processes, and grassroots organizing that invest time and resources in a community and labor transition.
A just transition also requires that the entities who constantly poison our air, water, and land and have profited off the burning of fossil fuels at the expense of our environment and home must be held accountable.
PES’s debt is maturing. We have an opportunity to lead a community-driven plan to reimagine the future of that land–a plan that advances equity, invests in the neighborhoods that have been most impacted by PES pollution, and builds Philadelphia’s collective resilience.
We must make intentional investments in Black and Brown communities towards ownership and job creation in the renewable energy economy.
City Council Actions
City Council can call for an immediate moratorium on all fossil fuel infrastructure development, starting with the denial of the proposed PGW liquefied natural gas plant.
Amend Air Management Service’s permitting process to adopt a Cumulative Impacts Analysis & a Health Impacts Analysis.
Demand that the City invest in and prioritize community-owned renewable energy projects by Black, Brown, and poor communities in its energy procurement portfolio.