Public Comment Philadelphia City Council Jan 27, 2011 from Francine Cohen; Executive Director Philagreen Hospitality Assoc.
Good morning, my name is Francine Cohen and I am a city resident in favor of Resolution 100864. I am here as both a very concerned citizen of Philadelphia as well as the Executive Director of Philagreen Hospitality Association, which represents hotels in the region interested in sustainable practices, mostly in Center City. I am here today to express the consequences on the hospitality industry should our drinking water become contaminated as a result of hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin. The fact that we even need to address this is beyond my comprehension, as our right to clean drinking water is undeniable. And with the 2,000 plus violations already amassed by the gas industry, it should be obvious that government needs to step in and take every action within its authority to protect the highly profitable tourism industry as well as its citizens.
As I’m sure you are well aware, tourism is big business here and is poised to become even bigger with the expansion of the convention center. There are over 11,000 hotel rooms in Philadelphia currently, employing 10,750 people, 80% of whom are Philadelphia residents.
Philadelphia hotels currently generate over $110 million annually in tax revenue for the City and Commonwealth. According to the GPTMC, visitor spending in Greater Philadelphia generated $8.2 billion in 2009. In that year, visitor spending sustained 83,664 full-time jobs, generating $1.2 billion in federal, state and local taxes.
Certainly the current economic climate has affected this industry, with Lower Hotel Room Rates and Fewer Conventions. And although the expanded Convention Center promises increased occupancy, should our region’s drinking water become contaminated, those rooms will not be filled –travelers will certainly take their business to a city where they are not forced to drinking bottled water.
Just imagine, if you will, signs in our hotels warning guests not to drink the water from their sinks. This is not a third world country struck by an unavoidable environmental disaster. We have an opportunity NOW to prevent this from happening. And if you don’t do all that you can to protect your citizens and this industry, you will be part of the problem rather than the solution–the Delaware River will be contaminated and the cost to clean it up will be more than any agency can afford, if in fact it can ever be remediated to its current state. Certainly prevention trumps such dubious attempts. Please urge the DRBC to extend its moratorium until an impact study has been released and ensure our citizens in Philadelphia have a voice to the DRBC by holding a formal hearing here prior to the DRBC’s March 16th deadline.
Thank you for your time and consideration.