Posted in climate refugees, flooding, geothermal, jobs, refinery, remediation, solar, solutions

Nov 22, 2019 testimony at Philadelphia City Council – options for refinery site

Nov 22, 2019 testimony at Philadelphia City Council, video here.


My name is Meenal Raval, a Mt Airy resident and lead volunteer with the Sierra Club’s Rrady for 100 campaign, here in Philly and all of Southeast PA. I’m here today to speak on resolution 190676, to assess our options for the future of the refinery.

Yesterday, I mentioned that we cannot revive the refinery again, nor accept any industry that dumps into the atmosphere.

Being sensitive to near neighbors as well as creating family sustaining jobs, we’ve heard most people suggest something “green”.

We’ve heard mention of solar farms with energy storage. This means ground mounted solar panels generate electricity during the day, and saved in batteries for night time use.

Some people have mentioned geothermal fields offering district heating and cooling. This means pipes going deep in the ground, either horizontally or vertically, where temperatures remain a near-constant 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Bringing up air, water, or coolant from this near-constant 55 degrees means that in the winter, we only need to heat from 55 to 65 degrees. Laying pipes is something our laid-off refinery workers, and even the PGW workforce are skilled to take on.

Some others have dreamt of manufacturing turbines for offshore wind projects. With the nascent offshore wind industry, this idea was brought to Mayor Kenney’s attention by his first transition team, 5 years ago.

A new idea is manufacturing building materials from hemp — a renewable resource.

  • From hemp, we can make hemp-crete, a concrete alternative with 80% lower carbon emissions — because we have an insatiable desire for concrete.

  • From hemp we can make insulation, much needed as we bundle up our buildings for more comfort.

  • Also from hemp we can make paper & textiles. The Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp; as were ship sails, ropes and clothing.

There are many budding industrial hemp growers across Pennsylvania, who could supply our local market. All of these have the potential to create family sustaining jobs in our city.

Whatever we decide to do, we need to clean up this site.

The past owners have abused this land. Though they have pledged to remediate the land, they have done little. Their plans are based on the assumption that there would continue to be a refinery here. Since this is no longer what Philadelphians want or need, this site needs to be cleaned, I think they call it remediation — for uses other than a refinery. So we ask Evergreen, Sunoco, and PES, to remediate to the highest standard — that of a green space.

With this level of remediation, we could design for public access to our riverfront. We could design for ground mounted solar farms surrounded by plants that invite pollinators — the bees and the butterflies.

We also need to consider flooding of this site due to rising sea levels — another result of a warming planet. I learned yesterday that basements at The Navy Yard get flooded regularly by the ground water seeping up, and that fish have been seen in these flooded basements. So, whether from an instant cloud burst, rising ground water, or rising sea levels — we will get flooded. We don’t need to worry about climate refugees from New York, but instead, from Eastwick, The Navy Yard and South Philadelphia.

With an awareness that some portions will be swallowed up by rising waters, these low lying spaces will need to be remediated to marshland.

The most cost effective way to remediate seems to be by using the mycelium network of mushrooms. I spoke about this at the first meeting of the refinery advisory group. That basically, mushrooms thrive on the hydrocarbons, breaking them down to hydrogen, oxygen and carbon.

Since then, we’ve heard about using bacteria to break down the spilled fossil fuels. From someone who does this type of remediation in Ohio, we learned that “cleanup could take anywhere from less than a year to 5 years depending on level of contamination.”

We’ll need to monitor the remediation costs, so that the insurance proceeds are  adequate for the cleanup work required, before they disappear as bonuses to executives far away. Again, using bacteria and mushrooms to break down the hydrocarbons seem to be the most cost effective way of cleaning up.

We can research and expound on each of these…

  • creating family sustaining jobs,

  • remediation for a use other than a refinery,

  • consideration of rising sea levels

But we need you, Council, to remove all tax incentives and zoning that allowed this refinery for as long as it has. We once offered them all this because we thought we needed this industry. We no longer need the fossil fuel industry, and we need to make it financially unattractive for anyone to restart this refinery.

Thank you!


 

Posted in electric stoves, electrify everything, no fossil fuels, transition

Testimony at May 2, 2019 session of City Council

Two Philadelphians—Joe Cox and Meenal Raval—spoke this week against our own municipal utility’s desires to extend their customer base for fracked gas by developing an LNG facility. You can learn more at 350philly.org/NoLNG.

Watch, and/or read testimony below.


Joe Cox, candidate for City Council At Large

Watch Joe at 1:00

 


Watch Meenal at 1:01

Good morning! I’m Meenal Raval.  And I’m here today to speak on 3 items: 170706, 181063, and 181081 – all about the climate crisis and our dependance on fracked gas. I’m aware that only the 2nd one, bill 181063, is on the agenda today.

The first item, resolution 170706 is from September 2017. I bring it up to remind ourselves that it commits the City of Philadelphia to meet or exceed our share of the targets set by the Paris Climate Accord to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Sponsors were many of you here today: Councilmembers Cindy Bass, Derek Green, Kenyatta Johnson, Helen Gym, Curtis Jones, Blondell Reynolds Brown, Bobby Henon, Jannie Blackwell and David Oh.

The emissions from PGW are about 22% of Philadelphia’s emissions. What’s been done to reduce these emissions…in light of our commitment to the Paris Climate Accord, back in September of 2017?

I’m also here to speak on bill 181063, that you’ve heard me speak on before. It’s about the LNG facility proposed by PGW.

Lastly, there’s resolution 181081. Many testified on this last week, discussing the future of PGW beyond selling more fracked gas.

All three of these connected in my head when I read yesterday’s New York Times article titled – Your Gas Stove Is Bad for You and the Planet. It says… to help solve the climate crisis, we need to electrify everything.

This article is highly recommended reading for each of you. Some quotes from it…

In Berkeley, Councilwoman Kate Harrison is proposing a ban on gas hookups in new buildings, part of an effort to make sure the city follows through on its 2018 declaration of a “climate emergency.”

A policy idea for us! Another quote…

Stoves actually use very little energy, but until people are convinced there are superior alternatives to gas stoves, we will not be able to get rid of gas lines to buildings — and start saving large amounts of money by shutting down the gas distribution system.

This article also says that…

gas stoves are polluting our homes. Over the past decade, a growing body of scientific evidence has shown that gas stoves throw off pollutants like nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. When you are cooking, those invisible pollutants can easily reach levels that would be illegal outdoors, but the Clean Air Act does not reach inside the home.

and

Scientists link gas stoves to asthma attacks and hospitalizations. In 2008, Johns Hopkins scientists urged doctors to advise parents of asthmatic children to get rid of their gas stoves or at least install powerful exhaust hoods. Asthma is a rampant, discriminatory disease, hitting children and communities of color the hardest.

So, I’m here today asking all of you to step up. To remember the Paris Climate Accord and each of your pledges to work towards it. I’m asking each of you to be our climate champion this coming election, and leave us a memorable legacy. There are many of us, ready to to work with you on the transition. Who will it be?

Will it be you…Ms Bass? Mr Green? Mr Johnson?

Or you… Ms Gym? Mr Jones? Ms Reynolds Brown?

Perhaps you… Mr Henon? Ms Blackwell? Or you? Mr Oh?


Posted in no fossil fuels

Testimony at March 14th 2019 City Council session

People keep speaking up against the proposed LNG facility. Witness two speakers from March 14th, 2019.

Watch Meenal at 1:22 – 1:24

Hi. My name is Meenal Raval. I’m here to talk about bill number 181063, otherwise known as PGW’s public-private partnership to develop and operate a liquid natural gas (LNG) processing facility.

I think the public in “public private partnership” refers to people like me, that people like you should be representing. People like me think this project should not be approved. Some of your offices were visited by people like me yesterday.

We’ve heard that our own utility, who wants this project so very much, has accused us, people like me, of spreading mis-information about this project.

I would like to remind Council that the public advocate, hired by the Philadelphia Gas Commission to represent interests of all ratepayers, also has raised concerns about this project. Concerns which have been ignored. Concerns about making this decision based solely on a term sheet, without looking at contracts. Concerns about the City being left with the risk.

I would also like to refer to tomorrow’s global school strike for climate at over 1100 locations globally in over 90 countries, including Philadelphia. The youth have a list of demands, so that they have a future on a livable planet.

One of them is to halt all fossil fuel development. This LNG project is one such project.

Another demand is that every government decision, at every level, is a science-based decision, not just about money, or a few jobs today.

OK’ing this project is a decision that affects all our residents inversely, meaning in a bad way. I trust Council will consider my voice and the voices of the youth tomorrow in their deliberations.

Thank you.


Good morning

Watch Lynn at 1:25 – 1:28

My name is Lynn Robinson.  I’m a union member, voter, teacher, PGW customer, creative soul, who is sometimes not diplomatic enough, but actually means well, director of Neighbors Against the Gas Plants, and a member of the new Pass On Gas Philly Alliance.

Thank you for your kind attention to my message to you today, on bill #181063, Council member Green’s proposed LNG project. 

Here’s the rub.  Let’s reduce PGW’s current debt, down to a rounded off figure of $1 billion. An LNG plant, even if it brings in the unlikely projected maximum of $4 million a year, would pay off PGW’s debt, in 250 years.  If the revenue is closer to the guaranteed amount of $ 1.3 million/year, it would take 769 years.  

The price of delaying a just transition to renewable energy, is just not worth it.  Let’s just be clear about bill #181063.

A new LNG [processing facility] at Passyunk would guarantee more outdoor air pollution, and disease, for those living near the refinery.  

A new LNG [processing facility] would encourage an influx of more methane burning electrical generation plants, like SEPTA’s in Nicetown, within city limits, and result in a delay on renewable alternatives. 

An increase of on site, electrical generation, using methane, would mean more asthma, cancer, brain damage especially in children and elders, less productivity, lower academic achievement levels, and a continuance of Philadelphia’s non-attainment status for ozone.

Selling gas to other locations, encourages the same mess for them, and will push the planet’s warming trend.

Too many of Philadelphia’s incumbents have come under the influence of the Marcellus Shale, and conveniently remained blind to climate science. Natural gas, with its unavoidable methane leaks, is no better for the climate than coal, or any other fossil fuel. 

Open your eyes. According to the EPA, methane leaking to the air has 84 to 87 times the potency of carbon dioxide in the air, for the first 20 years.

PGW must redefine its mission, now, and I challenge Council member Green to step up to the plate, and champion that cause.

There is no amendment to 181063 that can justify adding additional methane gas infrastructure to this city.  That thought is blind to science.  It needs a no vote, based on the facts.

What the city needs now, is a Philadelphia-style Green New Deal, so that we join the worldwide effort to address the climate crisis, by 2030.  A Philadelphia Green New Deal would provide plenty of living wage as well as union jobs to city residents.  

The people’s question is: Will Philadelphia City Council and Mayor continue to be Trump’s left hand, or will you allow the necessary shift away from fossil fuels?

Thank you.


Watch Reverend Greg Holston at 2:05 – 2:08

Reverend Greg Holston of POWER Interfaith speaks on poverty and the need to raise minimum wage – but not at any cost. He also spoke of the need to halt fossil fuel development.

Posted in ban plastics, climate, no fossil fuels, transition

Testimony at March 21st 2019 City Council session

The Philadelphia community is resisting our own municipal utility wanting to extend their gas customer base for fracked gas. You can learn more at 350philly.org/NoLNG. The below is testimony of 2 residents against this project on March 21st 2019.


Watch Emily at 1:00 – 1:02

Hello. My name is Emily Davis. 

I ask you to please vote down Bill 181063 which would allow the city to enter into a contract for a Liquefied Natural Gas Plant.  A time when the city is trying to lower its carbon footprint, is not a time to permit the building of a new facility that supports an energy system based on hydrocarbons.  

As we transition away from the use of natural gas in our homes, we will need PGW’s support.  So while one part of PGW maintains the old system and shrinks in size, a new part, supporting sustainable energy sources and energy efficiency could be expanding.

We have all heard about the costly results of the extreme weather, like those this week in Nebraska and Mozambique that has plagued the world in recent years.  97% of scientists believe that climate change in caused by humans and know what we humans are doing to cause it.   One of those activities is the burning of hydrocarbons.   One of the effects of climate change is extreme weather. These weather disasters are very costly – our own government says that “In 2018, there were 14 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States.”  So Philadelphia is right in wanting to lower its carbon footprint.

The financial advantage of this LNG plant is questionable.  The annual budget of the city of Philadelphia is over 4 billion.  The income from this facility is projected to be less than 0.1% of that.  And, there are questions about the private partner.  

I agree that PGW needs help – but this is not it.  As we transition away from the use of natural gas in our homes, we will need PGW’s support.  So while one part of PGW maintains the old system and shrinks in size, a new part, supporting sustainable energy sources and energy efficiency could be expanding.

Please do not support this bill or any bill that supports new infrastructure for fossil fuels.  The costs will outweigh the benefits.


Hello. My name is Meenal Raval.

Watch Meenal at 1:24 – 1:26

I’m here today to speak on bill number 181063 – authorizing PGW to enter into a public private partnership with Liberty Energy Trust to develop the Passyunk Energy Center. 

How can Council consider a steel fork dangerous, and not consider a large fossil fuel project dangerous?

You must know that gas is a fossil fuel. That adding to our dependency of fossil fuels at this late stage of a planetary climate fever is immoral and dangerous. 

Today, as I passed thru security, I was stopped because I had a steel fork in my bag. We aren’t talking about a pitchfork, but a dinner fork from my kitchen drawer. Many of us, keenly aware of our city’s litter problem and our oceans choking with plastic, choose to avoid using single-use plastics. Single-use plastics such as forks, water bottles, straws and check-out bags. Because single-use plastics are made from fossil fuels, which we need to use so much less of. I want to thank Councilman Squilla for leading on reducing our city’s use of single-use plastic bags.

So while my fork waits for me by the security team, I’m here asking… How can Council consider a steel fork dangerous, and not consider a large fossil fuel project dangerous? Please, vote down bill number 181063 when it comes up for a vote. 

I’m also here to speak about bill number 181067 introduced December 6, 2018 by Council member Reynolds Brown. This bill calls for public hearings about executing the mayor’s Municipal Energy Master Plan, a plan that calls for all of the city’s municipal facilities to use 100% renewable energy by 2030.

By the way, 12 municipalities in the greater Philadelphia area have passed resolutions to transition their energy use to 100% renewable – community-wide. That’s public as well as private. 

We can offer a presentation to any of you who want to learn more about the Ready for 100% renewable energy campaign. 

Thank you.