Community Health, Climate, and the Failure to Act: Local Health Solutions to Pollutions

July 15, 2022

Philadelphia, PA – Last month the Supreme Court sided with coal companies and their allies, limiting the EPA from setting the kind of highly-effective standards we need. There is still room, however, for the EPA to exercise its authority – and duty – to cut climate pollution.

Today Senator Manchin of West Virginia again dealt a blow to the hope for sufficient let alone substantial and dire investments in mitigating climate change, protecting our environment, and ensuring the health of our communities. Combined with the decision by the Supreme Court to limit the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon pollution from power plants the government is hamstring in its efforts to fight climate change. This means local solutions are more important than ever. We need local leaders today to do everything they can to help our communities suffering from cancer, respiratory illness, and many other effects from pollutants we can control. We can do better. We must do better.

On Thursday, July 21 at 2:00pm, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light will hold a “Health Solutions to Pollution” Rally outside the EPA’s Philadelphia Office 1650 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19103.

Confirmed attendees include Philadelphia Council Member Helen GymRussell Zerbo of the Clean Air Council, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

We have a moral responsibility as a nation, and a sacred task as people of faith, to care for our climate and to leave a safe and thriving world for future generations. 

Who: Councilwoman Helen Gym, Russel Zerbo, the Clean Air Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light

What: Rally in support of the Community Health Act and climate investments in the reconciliation bill. 

Where: EPA Region 3 Office (1650 Arch Street Philadelphia)

When: 7/21/2022 from 2PM to 4PM

Interested reporters should RSVP to David Heayn-Menendez – info@paipl.org.


About Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light:
Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light inspires and mobilizes people of faith and conscience to take bold and just action on climate change. PA IPL is the Pennsylvania affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light, a national religious response to the threat of climate change. We see climate change as a moral issue, one that demands a response from people of faith.

Now Available: Video of Philly IPL Chapter’s April 12th Program!

Can PGW Accelerate Philadelphia’s Clean Energy Transition?

The city-owned Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) acquires, stores, and distributes natural gas to churches, libraries, schools, industry, restaurants, other businesses, and residences in the city of Philadelphia. The gas is used for heating, hot water, cooking, and industrial processes. PGW employees install and repair the network of underground pipes that deliver gas to consumers. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a fossil fuel. When burned it produces CO2, the major greenhouse gas. When natural gas leaks along the way from well to consumer it contributes to global warming because methane itself is a significant greenhouse gas. Natural gas is a large part of Philadelphia’s carbon footprint.

In order to avoid ever worsening effects of climate change, the UN’s IPCC says we must cut in half our use of fossil fuels by 2030 and eliminate them entirely by 2050. What can and should be PGW’s response to this requirement? How do we wean Philadelphia from its natural gas addiction?

The discussion leader at our April PA IPL Philadelphia Chapter meeting is Mitch Chanin. Mitch is a long time Philadelphia climate activist. He was a leader in the opposition to SEPTA developing a gas-fired electric generating station in the Nicetown section of Philadelphia. Mitch is the co-chair of the Climate Justice Caucus at Reclaim Philadelphia and is also a member of Philly Thrive and Philly DSA. As a volunteer with POWER Interfaith, Mitch is a member of the PGW Just Transition campaign team and has presented testimony to the Philadelphia Gas Commission. We will be talking about the work that has gone on in this area and about the pros and cons of different options for reducing Philadelphia’s reliance on natural gas and encouraging the use of clean, renewable energy.

Sign up here if you would like to join the Philadelphia chapter of PA IPL!

Now Available: Video of March 31st Climate, Justice, & Jobs Rally at Philadelphia City Hall

Climate Can’t Wait! Climate, Justice, and Jobs in Philadelphia – Rally at City Hall

Climate can’t wait. Not in our state and not in Philadelphia. People across the state want bold climate action to protect our common home. We need bold action that supports families in our communities and addresses core moral concerns. This includes the most significant climate and clean energy investments EVER – that will create jobs and protect clean air and clean water for all. We can’t let our communities suffer from polluted air and water any longer.

We have a moral responsibility as a nation, and a sacred task as people of faith, to care for our climate and to leave a safe and thriving world for future generations.

On Thursday, March 31 at 12:30pm, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light held a Climate, Justice, and Jobs Rally at the northwest corner of City Hall (JFK Blvd and S 15th Street).

Speakers include State Senator Sharif Street, Philadelphia Councilmember Helen Gym’s Office, Climate Action PA, Maurice Q. Jones from Par Recycle Works and more!

This is a time for action, to make our voices heard, and push our federal, state, and local officials to make investments in our health, jobs, and futures! Through petition signing, phone banking, and coalition building on the issues that matter most we will guide our community leaders to take action. Join us to learn about the PA legislators and local non-profits who are combating these inequities and how you can join us in the fight towards environmental justice and equity in Pennsylvania!

Now Available: Video of Philly IPL Chapter’s March 8th Program!

Philadelphia’s Community Health Act Will Address Environmental Injustice

Any plans to address climate change and shift our economy to clean energy must consider the impacts that burning fossil fuels and production of other industrial pollutants have had on the health and well-being of Philadelphians. Policies must redress this environmental injustice. The March meeting of PA IPL’s Philadelphia Chapter addresses this topic. Our guest, Andres Celin, Outreach Director for City Councilmember Helen Gym, discusses the proposed Community Health Act and the impact it could have addressing pollution and health threats in urban communities.

Andres Celin Bio:
Andres Celin has spent a decade working in education, youth development, social services, and community organizing in the Latino community in North Philadelphia. He is currently the Outreach Director for City Councilmember Helen Gym and is a Certified Trauma-informed Trainer/Practitioner with Lakeside Global Institute. Prior to his current role, Andres was the Lead Organizer at Youth United for Change, where he worked to develop the political leadership of young people in Kensington. He has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Haverford College, and a Master in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.

Community Health Act Description:
Councilmember Gym has introduced legislation aimed at redressing the environmental injustices suffered by Black and Brown communities historically overburdened by pollution. The Community Health Act would require the identification and mapping of ‘environmental justice communities’ based on past, present, and future pollution, environmental stressors, health vulnerabilities, and demographic factors. Any permits for industrial use in or near these communities would require the City to conduct a “cumulative impact assessment” that looks at the actual impact of pollution in context before granting an approval — and empower the City to require mitigating steps to prevent harm.

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The Philadelphia chapter of PA IPL is very active. Chapter volunteers plan workshops, services, and work in coalition with many other groups bringing faith voices to climate justice and clean energy transition efforts, and they bring climate justice voices to faith work. Their monthly meetings are on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 PM, and are open to everyone. Particular meetings may focus either on planning or on a particular program.