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Simply the Sun: Save Philly from Dirty Shale Energy Hub

March 13, 2015

Installing solar panels in Germantown: Anil of Sumintra, a local sustainable energy company, should be invited to testify today at City Council. Instead, City Council is in the process of embracing dirty shale energy. Photo: JJTiziou

Although Philadelphia City Council just yesterday unanimously passed a Resolution pressing the feds to ban the puncture-prone, dangerous tank cars carrying volatile Bakken Shale crude oil, today City Council is doing something entirely different.

They’re holding a hearing from 10 AM to 2 PM designed to promote, design and build public-private partnerships in order to transform Philadelphia from the “Next Great Green City” into a “Dirty Shale Energy Hub” instead.

The language they use sounds innocuous. “Energy Hub”: that could mean energy efficiency: deep energy retrofits, insulation up to R60 for severe winter weather, double and triple-pane windows, excellent public transportation infrastructure, and increased investment in sustainable agriculture, since the way we currently produce food involves irrational, poisonous large-scale use of petrochemicals. It could mean shiny solar panels, large-scale wind investment, and small-scale wind turbines that look solid (to birds) so they don’t kill birds.

Except it doesn’t mean any of that. Philadelphia City Council’s “Special Committee on Energy Opportunities” plans to expand PGW’s use of Marcellus Shale fracked gas, including dangerous LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) infrastructure and production. The plan includes building an insane 42″ fracked gas pipeline which would go under the Delaware River.

The plan includes attracting dirty, polluting industries like plastics and chemicals manufacturers to use the cheap Marcellus Shale gas. It’s cheap because it’s almost completely unregulated in the shalefields, from vertical drilling to fracturing and “completion” to waste dumping and spreading waste on the roads, to compressor stations and pipelines, which in case you haven’t noticed keep exploding like the brand-new fracked gas liquids pipeline did in West Virginia in January 2015.

The Philly plan includes more dangerous oil trains, which Philadelphia Energy Suicide (PES), the refinery which keeps flaring and sending toxic smoke and emissions into Philadelphia neighborhoods, relies upon to enact CEO Phil Rinaldi’s vision of expansion and everlasting profits.

So, is Philadelphia City Council getting credit for doing the right thing one day only to race in the exact wrong direction the next day? You bet they are! From Philadelphia Weekly Press:

The Special Committee of City Council on Energy Opportunities for Philadelphia has announced its inaugural hearing agenda for Friday, March 13, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Special Committee will hear testimony on the viability of public-private partnerships (P3s) in Philadelphia, opportunities for expanding the role of the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) in Philadelphia’s energy future, best practices and proposals for energy-related P3s, and possible legislative frameworks for future P3 proposals.

The Special Committee is co-chaired by Councilman Bobby Henon (6th District; chair, Committee on Public Property and Public Works) and Councilwoman Marian Tasco (9th District; chair, Philadelphia Gas Commission), and includes Councilman Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District; chair, Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities), Councilman At-Large Ed Neilson (chair, Committee on Labor and Civil Service) and Councilman At-Large David Oh (chair, Committee on Global Opportunities and the Creative/Innovative Economy).
                                                                                                                                                                                     The order of witnesses expected to testify is as follows: Craig White, CEO, PGW; Scott Rubin, Esq., public utilities consultant; Philip Rinaldi, CEO, Philadelphia Energy Solutions; Boris Brevnov, Managing Member, Liberty Energy Trust; John Henry, CEO, Chariot Companies; Franc James, CEO, Penn America Energy LP; The Honorable Ed Pawlowski, Mayor, City of Allentown. Members of the public wishing to testify may email or call 215-686-2070.

Show up, of course, if you can: run over at lunch to City Hall (bring your photo ID!); witness, testify, and protest with small paper signs with messages like “No Dirty Shale Energy Hub” and “Clean Energy Efficiency Hub, Don’t Frack Philly!” and “Sustainability Now: Climate Change is Here” and “NO to Philadelphia Energy Suicide.”

More importantly, pepper Philadelphia City Council members with phone calls, today and over the next few weeks, with that same message. Call the Council President, Darrell Clarke; the Councilmembers involved in this hearing — Henon, Tasco, Johnson, Neilson, and Oh — as well as the at-large Councilmembers and your own Council representative.

Not from Philly? Call anyway! Philadelphia Energy Suicide (PES) is already the largest consumer of Bakken Shale oil. The fracking, flaring and transportation of Bakken Shale oil has already killed well over 50 people, in Lac Megantic and in the shalefields. It will kill many more both in the short term and in the long term.

So when you make your calls today and over the next few weeks, call for:

* A complete moratorium on oil “bomb trains” rather than an expanded role for PES. Invest in renewables instead!

* A complete moratorium on Phil Rinaldi’s testimony at City Council hearings. Bring in Anil from Sumintra instead!

* No 42″ fracked gas pipeline under the Delaware River. No expansion for PGW. Invest in energy efficiency instead!

* Environmental justice instead of environmental racism. No increase in asthma and COPD from new plastics, chemicals and other dirty manufacturers in the Philadelphia region. Invest in sustainable agriculture and public transit instead!

For inspiration, look at what’s going right in Philly! Read “Simply the Sun,” the beautiful, fact-filled photo-essay by renowned photographer JJ Tiziou. Here’s an excerpt from his photo captions:

This shot of Anil “uses the most unique lightsource available to photographers: a giant spherical fusion reactor in the sky. In other words, the sun.” Photo: JJ Tiziou.

“Since the panels that Anil installs kick out so much power, they can not only power the home, but also send excess energy into the utility grid.”

“Anil runs a local sustainable energy business called Sumintra. With a little bit of know-how and some technology that is becoming more and more affordable.”

“That very blast of sunlight that’s overexposing the left side of this image is the same one that could power your home. For free.”

“The panels used are modular, so you can build an array that suits your space.”

What Philadelphia does is not just about Philly. It’s about death and life in the shalefields; it’s about the extreme flooding in our near future if we don’t turn around our greenhouse gas emissions right now; it’s about our democracy.

What Philadelphia decides in the coming weeks and months — to embrace wholeheartedly the expanded profits in polluting industries to massively expand the “market” for fracked gas and oil, or to turn towards sustainability wholeheartedly — impacts the region, the nation, and the globe. Remember we must keep 4/5ths of all known fossil fuel reserves in the ground to avoid going beyond 2 degrees of global warming, triggering the type of climate change which would render the planet mostly uninhabitable, according to scientists.

One Comment
  1. M A L permalink
    March 13, 2015 12:18 pm

    Can we get an action email link with letter to city council? Thanks MAL

    Date: Fri, 13 Mar 2015 15:51:38 +0000 To:

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