Let’s NOT Make Philly The New Houston
by Michael Silverstein, guest commentator
Fossil fuel interests had a problem a few years back. They wanted to expand Philadelphia’s refinery business and give a boost to natural gas peddlers who sought to greatly increase their own presence here. But the reality of the city’s past experience with fossil fuels seemed to stand in the way.
Philadelphia was long known as “filthadelphia” because of the stink arising from the fossil fuel industry’s local operations. Forbes magazine had labeled Philly “the capital of toxicity” because of the massive toxic residues that industry left behind when it migrated to other places.
How could the fossil fuel crowd possibly repackage its hopes so it could come back here and do it all again? How could it re-foul the city and construct what are sure to be another gaggle of toxic stranded assets left behind from a new visitation?
Leave it to these cunning rascals to come up with a plan — a so-called “energy hub” built around bringing in a huge increase in North Dakota oil by rail, and making Pennsylvania-generated natural gas from the Marcellus Shale deposits the basis of a new economic spurt. This plan, this vision, they guaranteed, guaranteed! would ensure the city’s future economic prosperity, make us (and this phrase really sealed the deal) “the new Houston.”
It worked perfectly. The entire political class of the city and the state bought in out of honorable concerns about Philadelphia’s economic future. Or maybe because of personal benefits offered. Or simple intellectual ossification. The latter two frequent generators of local planning policies.
What is so extraordinary about this buy-in, however, is that while what was once so obviously just a stupid idea from an environmental and health standpoint, but with seeming economic advantages, makes no economic sense today either. Markets have changed dramatically in the last few years, but thinking within our public policy-making class is as firmly set as when this energy hub hook was first baited.
Oil and gas isn’t a booming industry any longer. It’s in a bust mode with companies going under or restructuring like mad just to stay afloat. It’s no longer a job creator. In the country’s present fossil fuel-based energy hub alone, Houston, an estimated 50,000 oil and gas workers have lost their jobs in the last year or two.
Around the world countries like OPEC leader Saudi Arabia is moving dramatically to build its own future prosperity around solar energy. Europe’s economic leader, Germany, has made and continues to make amazing strides in the economic development and deployment of renewables. In this country, green energy of various kinds is becoming a national leader in new jobs growth in tandem with the fall off of jobs in the fossil fuels industry.
While the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania policy making class bumbles along with its plans to promote a fossil fuels-based energy hub in the city, those clever fossil fuel rascals, who know the truth of changes noted above better than anyone, week after week and month after month systematically put down facts on the ground, creating the fossil fuel infrastructure that will make wake up time in public policy making land irrelevant because Philly missed the boat on renewables and is hopelessly fossil fuel-dependent, like it or no.
We still have elections from time to time in this town. Another one is coming soon. It might be a good time to bring the idiocy of present energy hub planning to the attention of folks who want to keep their jobs.
You never know. Some might still have the courage and intelligence to avoid the worst of where this city is headed on energy.
(The author or this piece, Michael Silverstein, is a former senior editor with Bloomberg News)
So strange - the links were here then they disappeared. Here they are again:
“Toyota… says sales of gasoline- and diesel-engine cars will be near zero by 2050” - http://www.wsj.com/articles/toyota-maps-out-decline-of-conventionally-fueled-cars-1444824804
Scientists Turn Green Algae Into Biofuel at $50 a Barrel + exploited an alloy that can deliver a colossal pulse of electric power when you kick it. - ecowatch.com/2015/10/08/green-algae-biofuel/
Micro photosynthetic power cells - A team of researchers from the Optical Bio Microsystem lab at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, have invented and developed micro-photosynthetic cell technology that can harness electrical power from the photosynthesis and respiration of blue-green algae - http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-10/ws-mpp100215.php
“The world’s most influential banker says an orderly switch from fossil fuels to renewables is needed to avoid turmoil on world stock markets.” – a few links to stories about Mark Carney’s impressive switch:
Mark Carney wants business to calculate the fossil fuel future www.cbc.ca/news/.../carney-warning-fossil-fuel-analysis-1.3250294 CBC.ca
“Solar and Wind Just Passed Another Big Turning Point” - It has never made less sense to build fossil fuel power plants. - http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-06/solar-wind-reach-a-big-renewables-turning-point-bnef
Check out the Climate Central maps showing Philly's best and worst flooding scenarios depending on what we do about climate change. Even in the best case - with extreme carbon reduction - so long to anything along the river front - including refineries! And if we keep on spewing petro pollution - well I hope in anyone southeast of Frankford Ave and/or Lombard St you've got your water wings handy...
Podcast - October 16th Planet Philadelphia
Kay Wood’s environmental radio show, Planet Philadelphia, on local radio station Gtown Radio is a mix of environmental news, interviews, music, poetry, and reporting on http://www.gtownradio.com/ 1st and 3rd Fridays each month 4:00 to 5:00 pm with podcasts available the following day.
Delaware Riverkeeper Network: http://delawareriverkeeper.org/
Green Justice Philly Coalition Launch Rally Time Wed Oct 14 2015 at 01:30 at 14th and JFK:
Royal Dutch Shell abandoning Arctic oil and gas exploration “for the foreseeable future: http://www.wsj.com/articles/shell-to-cease-oil-exploration-offshore-alaska-1443419673
Evalyn Parry - Bottle This – “Water is a human right not a luxury:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DqYaQcWRr4
Drinking water systems around the US are imperiled by failing infrastructure:
Hydrogen news takes the wind out of naysayers sails:
Cheap, durable, safe, battery power storage in sight: http://climatenewsnetwork.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6e13c74c17ec527c4be72d64f&id=d1763842f7&e=e242cc392f
October 2: Planet Philadelphia radio show podcast of the first part of the interview with Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network about keeping people in the Philly region safe from petrochemical pollution, amazing news, “Bottle This” by performance artist Evalyn Parry, and more:
Where’s the lawsuit!?
I did an editorial about this on Planet Philadelphia this Friday – but seriously folks I think we gotta case!
Read the story on philly.com:Exxon's own research confirmed fossil fuels' role in global warming
Top executives were warned of possible catastrophe from greenhouse effect, then led efforts to block solutions.http://www.philly.com/philly/busines/Exxons_own_research_confirmed_fossil_fuels_role_in_global_warming_.html
German Architect Andre Broessel says he can “squeeze more juice out of the sun”…allowing twice the yield of a conventional solar panel – as an artist, of course, I was attracted because and the prototype’s amazingly cool looking – http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/spherical-sun-power-generator/
Artifical leaf… uses cheap, readily available materials, solar power, and water to make energy and the system pumps up out hydrogen with more efficiency than anything that's gone before. A quote: "It effectively becomes an energy storage solution," "That hydrogen can then be used in a fuel cell to regenerate the electricity—so we just effectively stored the energy and regenerated it again… Or it could be used for fuel cell hybrid car, like Toyota's new Mirai” - http://www.fastcoexist.com/3050712/a-record-breaking-new-artificial-leaf-makes-power-from-sun-and-water
Edible Battery - Professor Jay Whitacre, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburg - non-toxic battery to store excess solar and wind energy… according to Professor Whitacre in this story, his battery is safe enough to eat and drink and it’s inexpensive - made out of nothing more than salt water and other simple components - it’s intended for big power farms that could soak up excess electricity during the day — storing power for when the sun’s down - http://www.ozy.com/rising-stars/jay-whitacre-and-the-edible-battery/60826
“People's Climate Music” tour - HOME (Heal Our Mother Earth) - “The tour is bringing awareness of climate injustice to urban communities and people of color,” said the Rev Lennox Yearwood, CEO of Hip Hop Caucus and organizer of the tour. “It’s broadening the current climate movement.” - http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/common-ne-yo-go-green-on-hip-hop-benefit-album-home-20141223
From the country that gave us the Statue of Liberty – French company called New Wind is putting tree-shaped wind turbines at the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Viva La France!
To let me know what you think about Planet Philadelphia, please call the Planet Philadelphia listener comment line: (484)278-1846 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter:@planetphila | Facebook: PlanetPhila
Please tune in again to listen to the many other fabulous shows on gtownradio.com.
September 18: Andrea Anastasi about a fossil fuel hub dream that could really be a nightmare and much more including Eileen Flanagan’s report from the EQAT action asking PECO to finish the green jobs puzzle.
In case the podcast doesn't work for you here's the link to my mixcloud page: https://www.mixcloud.com/PlanetPhiladelphia/planet-philadelphia-environmental-radio-show-host-kay-wood-sept-18th/
Planet Philadelphia on Gtown Radio – the sound of Germantown. Hosted and produced by Kay Wood - a mix of environmental news, interviews, music, poetry, and reporting on community events. Please tune in to http://www.gtownradio.com/ 1st and 3rd Fridays each month at 4:00 to 5:00 pm hear Planet Philadelphia.
September 4, 2015 was the first Planet Philadelphia environmental radio show on Gtown Radio in the heart of Germantown. The host of Planet Philadelphia, Kay Wood, interviewed inspiration environmental and social justice activist, George Lakey. He has led 1,500 workshops on five continents and led nonviolent direct action activist projects on local, national, and international levels. He’s written many books and articles, and taught classes at Swarthmore College.
Planet Philadelphia is an ongoing mix of environmental news, interviews, music, poetry, and reporting on community events. Please tune in to http://www.gtownradio.com/ 1st and 3rd Fridays each month at 4:00 to hear Planet Philadelphia and listen to a super show.
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Please tune in to http://www.gtownradio.com/ 1st and 3rd Fridays each month at 4:00 to 5:00 pm for Planet Philadelphia and listen to a super show.