Statement to the Environmental and Academic Committee of the
City of Philadelphia’s PES Refinery Advisory Group
Submitted on August 27, 2019, to the Environmental and Academic Committee of the City of Philadelphia’s PES Refinery Advisory Group
Thank you for the opportunity to speak. My name is Sarah — I am an earth scientist and live in Graduate Hospital. I am here today as a resident and to represent the Philly Pod of 500 Women Scientists, a grassroots volunteer organization with the mission to serve society by making science open,
inclusive, and accessible.
As you evaluate options for the future of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery site, we urge this Advisory Group to see its role as part of a larger conversation about the energy and economic transition the City must undertake to address climate change. It should integrate the City’s plans to reduce emissions and Mayor Kenney’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, which requires that the City be at zero net emissions by roughly 2050 or sooner, about 30 years. The City’s 2018 Clean Energy Vision recognizes the critical role of the PES refinery site in getting to zero emissions: the report states that “The City, residents, and other stakeholders will… need to work together to determine the future of the South Philadelphia oil refinery currently operated by Philadelphia Energy Solutions. The refinery is the
single-largest source of particulate emissions in the city and alone accounts for nearly 16 percent of Philadelphia’s carbon footprint, not including the fossil fuel products exported off-site.”
We hope that this Advisory Group is now starting the conversation envisioned in the City’s report. We have the following recommendations:
•As implied above, use this as an opportunity to plan for the transition of the PES site to one not dependent on fossil fuels.
• Financial assessments should consider the impact of various climate policies on the City and potential buyers of the site, including carbon pricing bills that have been introduced in Congress or potential future regulations.
•Consult with the schools and programs that are training our local workforce, and coordinate so that they are providing residents with the skills needed to support the future long-term use of this site.
•Consult with scientists to understand the climate and health impacts of alternative options for use of the site. 500 Women Scientists represents over 20,000 women scientists globally, and the Philly Pod has 170 members. We would be happy to support the Advisory Group’s work by connecting you with relevant experts and information or requesting input from our membership.
My 4-year-old son will be 86 in the year 2100, the year many climate projections end. He and his generation are depending on us to start this transition. Voting and public polling records indicate that the vast majority of Philadelphia families support reducing emissions and development of jobs and infrastructure that don’t rely on fossil fuels. We thank the Advisory Group for their important work to sustain the City’s communities and economy now and into the future.