Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Philadelphia See The Light

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Philadelphia, PA – The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) has implemented two ordinances designed to encourage the use of solar panels systems in Philadelphia. Sponsored by Councilman Jim Kenney, the two ordinances amend the Philadelphia Building Construction and Occupancy Code to greatly reduce the costs of securing both electrical permits and building permits for solar panel systems (also known as photovoltaic systems).

Licenses and Inspections Commissioner Fran Burns stated, “These changes are not only part of the ongoing reform and focus on supporting business development, but also a step towards ensuring a sustainable and competitive future for Philadelphia and its residents. I am excited to support this energy option since solar panel systems decrease dependence on fossil fuels and reduce the risks of rising energy costs in the long-run.”

Commenting, Councilman Jim Kenney said, “Today we move Philadelphia in the right direction, towards a more sustainable and greener future, while also encouraging economic development and job creation. As we continue down this green path, we must be open to further innovation and development of cleaner fuel sources.”

Passed by Council and signed into law by Mayor Nutter in the 2011 Term, Bills 110533 and 110829 amend the Code to exclude the costs of solar panels and inverters in calculating electrical permit and building permit fees when a photovoltaic system is installed.

In 2009, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability released the landmark Greenworks report, setting a variety of sustainability goals, including a key target of purchasing and generating 20 percent of electricity used in Philadelphia from alternative energy sources. The passage and implementation of these code amendments are important steps towards meeting the vision of Greenworks — to make Philadelphia the Greenest City in the United States.

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Philadelphia Area Among Top 20 Cities

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (March 15, 2011) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that more buildings than ever have earned the EPA’s Energy Star certification in 2010. The Philadelphia-area added many first-time labeled Energy Star buildings in 2010, jumping to a national ranking of 14th up from 24th. Many of the most recently added buildings in Philadelphia are schools. Energy Star buildings play an important role in preventing harmful air emissions that effect climate change, plus they reduce energy use and save money.

“I am pleased to see progress across the Philadelphia metropolitan area in energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said EPA mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “From Philadelphia to the smaller communities across the region, we are seeing growth in design, construction and retrofits to energy challenges of the 21st century.”

Philadelphia has 21 commercial Energy Star certified buildings, and across the country more than 6,200 commercial buildings earned the Energy Star in 2010. Nationally this is an increase of nearly 60 percent compared to 2009. Since EPA awarded the first Energy Star to a building in 1999, more than 12,600 buildings have been certified.

Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for nearly 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. Commercial buildings that earn the Energy Star must perform in the top 25 percent of buildings nationwide compared to similar buildings and be independently verified by a licensed professional engineer or registered architect each year. Energy Star certified buildings use 35 percent less energy and emit 35 percent less carbon dioxide than average buildings. Fourteen types of commercial buildings can earn the Energy Star, including office buildings, K-12 schools, and retail stores.

To see a short video about one of Philadelphia’s recently labeled buildings:

More information on the other top cities in 2010 with Energy Star certified buildings:

More information on EPA’s real-time registry of all Energy Star certified buildings:

More information about earning the Energy Star for commercial buildings:

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Clean Air Council Philadelphia’s 30th Annual 5K Run for Clean Air

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Philadelphia’s LARGEST Earth Day Celebration:

The 30th Annual 5K Run for Clean Air and Earth Day Celebration will take place April 16th, 2011. The course starts at the Philadelphia Art Museum and runs along Martin Luther King Drive. Arriving back at the finish line, the Clean Air Council has invited its partners and sponsors to participate in the Earth Day Celebration, providing an opportunity for community participants to hear about the latest Green event news, resources, and trends.

The 5K Run for Clean Air is a community effort to decrease the air pollution that triggers asthma and other respiratory problems in our families, as well as support programs that reduce waste in favor of increased recycling and composting and slow down global warming.

To get more information about the run, check out the website at

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Students to Help West Chester Businesses Save Energy

Friday, March 12th, 2010

PHILADELPHIA, PA — In a ceremony today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $149,992 grant to the West Chester Area School District for a project to help local businesses conserve energy, save money and cut harmful greenhouse gases.

The District’s Student Conservation Corps, made up of high school students concerned about the environment, will encourage and teach area businesses simple, no-cost measures to achieve 10 percent reductions in their energy usage and emissions of greenhouse gases. The project is one of 20 nationwide funded by EPA to showcase how communities are fighting climate change.

“EPA is proud to support students who are taking responsibility for the future of our environment,” said Shawn M. Garvin, EPA’s mid-Atlantic regional administrator. “Their efforts to engage businesses in conserving energy will have pay offs economically and for the larger community by improved air quality.”

The district already has an energy efficiency program, started and implemented by students, in operation in its 16 school buildings. The district spends $3 million a year for electricity. Last year, B. Reed Henderson High School, where today’s ceremony was held, used $300,000 of electricity. Now, as a result of its “Power Down Fridays” program the school has reduced its energy use by 22 percent – saving the taxpayers $60,000 annually.

Dr. Jim Scanlon, the district’s Superintendent, expressed excitement about this grant and in particular the way it is structured. “Our students are a great resource for ideas and care so much about the future of our community. That’s why they’re a key part of the implementation strategy.”

As a part of this EPA-funded project, the district plans to broaden its conservation efforts district-wide to achieve an additional 10 percent cut in energy use and greenhouse gases. Preliminary calculations estimate that by 2012 about 1,960 metric tons of greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions will be reduced annually through efforts by the businesses and the school district.

EPA will monitor the progress of grant recipients and will post quarterly updates about each recipient online.

More information on the grants and the grant recipients:

More information about the program:, and visit the website of the West Chester Area School District:

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Philadelphia Zoo Sponsors Earth Day Poster Contest

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Philadelphia, PA — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Philadelphia Zoo are sponsoring an Earth Day poster contest for students in grades kindergarten through 12 in EPA’s mid-Atlantic region, which includes Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Students are invited to submit hand-created drawings on plain letter-sized paper using markers, colored pencils, crayons, pens or paint. Computer-generated images will not be accepted. Students can choose one of the three themes:

1) Protect Habitats, Endangered Species
2) Help Protect the Earth from Climate Change
3) The Meaning of Earth Day

Entries will be divided into four categories: K-2nd grade; grades 3-5; grades 6-8; and grades 9-12. The top three winners in each category will receive a combined prize package from the EPA and Philadelphia Zoo. Winning entries and others will be displayed at the Philadelphia Zoo on April 22-24 as part of EPA’s 40th anniversary Earth Day celebration. The posters will later be displayed at the EPA’s Public Information Center in Philadelphia. Entries must be postmarked no later than March 1 and should be mailed to:

Earth Day Poster Contest (3PA00)
U.S. EPA Region 3
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

The back of the poster should include the competition theme, name, age, school name, grade, parent/guardian’s name, address, telephone number and email.

For more information, visit: or call (215) 814-5100 or email

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A Healthy Home for a Healthier Year

Monday, January 25th, 2010

The links between our health and the indoor environments are growing stronger every day. Learn how to make your home healthier by reducing pollutants that enter our homes through everyday products and how to make safer choices. This presentation by Jim Quigley, MS, BBEC, a Building Biology Environmental Consultant from Healthy Spaces, will discuss mold and moisture, allergens and air cleaners, lead and other heavy metals, and electromagnetic fields.

This evening of information will be at our office, on Butler Pike.
Thursday, February 11th @ 7 PM – 8:30 PM
Please RSVP: 610-567-3520, or Email:

Wellspring Homeopathic Care
3138 Butler Pike
Plymouth Meeting PA

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Summary of Public Meeting on Protecting Our Waters

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Summary of Public Meeting on Protecting Our Waters
Temple University, December 10, 2009

“We’re fighting for our lives.”,  according to Al Benner of P.O.W.
(Protecting Our Waters, Philadelphia) Robert Ryan, Ph.D., a hydrologist at
Temple University, said that gas companies are considering drilling  25,000
gas wells in Pennsylvania, though others predict more. These many wells
mean that 125,000 acres of land will become impermeable since each well
sits on a 5 acre concrete slab. This means that there will be increased
runoff and water will not be returned to streams to replenish them.  There
will be more erosion, and the water quality will worsen for oxygen will be
depleted and fish and other wildlife will suffer.
“What Is Clean Water Worth?” asked Barbara Arrindell, the founder of
Damascus Citizens.  Into the 1.5 to 9 millions of gallons pumped into each
well will be hundred of toxic chemicals and salt. This brine injected into
the earth will be 3-6 times more salty than the ocean. Presently, we have
no way to treat this water.
When we put the wastewater in “dry lakes”, it leaks and moves
deep into the ground, polluting any water below the surface. The EPS lists
240 highly toxic chemicals being used. Since the gas companies won’t
divulge the chemical makeup of what they inject into the ground, we don’t
know the quantity or combinations of chemicals.  Dr. Theo Colborn, an
endocrine specialist, analyzed the chemicals where spills had occurred and
polluted wells to gather data.  She found 900 mg. per liter of bromide, a
precursor to carcinogenic chemicals, in private water wells near the gas
wells. This is 10,000 times higher than what is considered a safe level.
There are 20 tons of toxic chemicals for every million gallons of water.
One gallon of toxic chemicals can contaminate one million gallons of water.
We know PCB’s travel 200 miles, so we know these other toxic chemicals are
coming our way.
It would cost $20 billion to build a water filtration system in N.Y.  No
wonder the gas companies just want to dump their wastewater into our rivers
and streams instead. Gas drilling or “fracking” is economically feasible
only with public subsidies like this. Remember, these companies may be gone
in 5 years, by the time citizens recognize their water has become
undrinkable. Already Pittsburgh has had three bottled water alerts in one
year, meaning their public water is not safe. In North Texas many
communities can’t use their water; bottled water must be brought in. Like
polluters in the past, they will transfer ownership or go bankrupt so

cannot be held responsible when billions of dollars are needed for cleanup later.  Meanwhile Halliburton gets a royalty on every well when their chemicals  are used.
The question was asked, “What is local?” since gas drilling may seem far
away. Sixty percent of Philadelphia’s water comes from the Delaware River
where the gas companies want to dump hundreds of millions of gallons of
toxic wastewater. The other 40% comes from the Schulykill which also would
be polluted. The Delaware River Basin Commission is having hearings with
the gas companies, hoping for approval to dump water by March.
We can learn from  other locations who have had drilling, like Jonahs,
Wyoming. They had a drop of 50% in wildlife, an increase in crime, loss of
businesses, a drop in property values, accidents like wildfires, more
traffic, a loss of tourism and hunting and a greater need for emergency
services, to name a few.
Some consider that “wastewater” is no longer water; it is industrial
fluid. And it is volatile, which means we shall be breathing in these
carcinogenic fumes. Not only do we inhale the toxic additives; we shall be
inhaling diesel fumes since it takes 800 gallons of diesel fuel to run each
well every day. People near wells report illnesses. Some have been
diagnosed with brain lesions, which are irreversible and have symptoms like
M.S. Not only do people in Philadelphia get their water from the Delaware
River, but we also will be breathing the toxic air, which can travel 200
Wes Gillingham of Catskills Mountainkeeper reminded participants that the
Catskills is only one of ten places in the Northeast that has over 50,000
acres of wilderness. Globally it is important to have contiguous wild
areas. It is a pristine. He says not to believe the regulators when they
say, “We have everything under control.” or “We have the best regulations
already.” They disregard any cumulative impact  because doing a cumulative
study is too difficult. Thus, there is no monitoring of wells, of the
ozone, of the health impact, or changes under ground. And they don’t map
the discharge. Twenty-seven environmental organizations have asked the
governor of N.Y. to throw out the generic impact statement on the present
study and start over again. Though they have hired experts, they are
confused by the 800 page document.
People have been lied to across the U.S. by the gas companies.
Chesapeake said they had no interest in drilling in the N.Y. watershed;
then three days later filed requests to drill there. Geologists report that
these companies make geologically incorrect assumptions about the impact of drilling. Unfortunately, the state of PA and the EPA have made a formal
partnership to dispose of the highly toxic contaminants.
Paul Schmidt Esq, a lawyer representing plaintiffs suing in Dimock, PA,
said we need to be distrustful. He represents 45 families who live
close to the gas wells whose groundwater has been contaminated. He said
there are numerous health problems, people’s life savings are gone yet they
can’t live in their homes. There are many other groups elsewhere  with
similar complaints. Groundwater pollution, spills, and other problems are
happening everywhere. The gas companies say they are not polluting wells
and streams, only because they are not testing them. It is very difficult
to sample streams and rivers accurately because we don’t know the
composition of the chemicals used.
The EPA is NOT taking care of us And the DEP said our concerns had no
merit. While gas companies do not need a permit to inject toxins into the
ground to get the gas, they do need a permit to inject the chemicals back
into the earth after they have resurfaced. The EPA is considering allowing
companies to do so.
Gas companies are exempt from regulations for toxic runoff if it is in an
area under 5 acres, which is why their well pads are just under 5 acres.
Bob Wendelgass, director of PA’s Clean Water Action, believes 100,000
wells are planned in PA. These will use tremendous amounts of clean water.
This writer estimated that 100,000 wells x 3,000,000 gallons (a low
estimate since each well takes between 1.5 and 9 million gallons of water)
= 300,000,000,000 gallons of fresh water which will be converted into toxic
industrial chemicals. That is 300 billions of our precious fresh water
which will be polluted.
Large areas in PA will be in grave danger as a result. We don’t have
enough fresh water to dilute all the fracking fluids. Our sewerage plants
can’t  handle these harsh chemicals, and the gas industry doesn’t want to
treat the water. They want the public to pay for any treatment. Thus, PA’s
DEP needs standards for discharge since the waste fluids contain large
amounts of salt, toxic chemicals and radioactivity. Unfortunately these
multimillion dollar companies have enormous resources to lobby against any
regulations. The comment period for standards of discharge ends in
February. Thus, attendance at the hearing in Allentown on Dec. 17 at 5pm
at the Lehigh County Government Center, 17 S. 7th Street  is so important.
Michel Boufadel, Chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department at Temple, spoke of the long term effects of drilling. As a
hydrologist and geologist, Dr. Boufadel has been working on the
Exxon-Valdez spill for twenty years and it is still not cleaned up.
He demonstrated how brine, the drilling fluid which is 3 to 6 times more
salty than the ocean, has a higher density than fresh water. Brine is 20%
heavier, so it moves downward into the earth more rapidly, potentially
polluting our aquifers. It sinks to the bottom and spreads. We need to look
at the persistence of contamination which will continue over many years,
well after the gas companies depart. Any study of impact will take years
though we should do studies to quantify the risk.
Tracy Carluccio, director of the Delaware Riverkeepers, said the east and
west branches of the Delaware meet at Hancock. The Schulykill is a
tributary. They flow for 330 miles before reaching the ocean. Five percent
of the U.S. population drinks from the Delaware River, which is being
threatened. Eight million live downstream and 15-17 million people rely on
the Delaware River for their water. The headwaters of the Delaware River
are on the Marcellus Shale. The Delaware is the largest free flowing river
east of the Mississippi. New York uses 800 million of gallons each day.
This is “consumptive use”, meaning this water doesn’t come back. Thus,
there should be an analysis of every major action on the Delaware in order
to ascertain the impact downstream, especially in Philadelphia. Yet, there
is no mention of any analysis of the impact of dumping into the Delaware,
no analysis of the cumulative effect. We must force the issue to prevent
damage. The dumping of industrial fluids into the Delaware should not move
ahead before an analysis of effect is done. Samples of salt and
radioactivity  taken in N.Y. were over safe levels. All this “wastewater”
or industrial fluid is definitely coming here to Philadelphia, for there is
not enough water to dilute it.  The Schulykill river is already chemically
challenged with TDS’s (Total Dissolved Solids). How will we deal with all
the carcinogenic bromide by-products, the salt, and the radioactivity?
Reverend Dr. Horace Strand, director of the Chester Environmental
Partnership, was the last speaker. His group is supported by the University
of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore, Lincoln and now Temple. Chester, a poor area,
has the fourth largest incinerator in the U.S. Previously his group sued
the EPA because there were so many waste facilities in Chester. It went all
the way to the Supreme Court, but was dismissed when one of the companies
went bankrupt.
When Strand learned that a wastewater treatment plant in Chester had been
granted a permit for waste disposal, which would bring  trucks   into the
community daily, delivering 50 million gallons of toxic water, he was
shocked because of their close relationship with the DEP. He wondered how
they were not informed. The community organized and bombarded the press to rescind this permit. They succeeded because of the pressure from so many
community groups working together. Temporarily, they have succeeded but
fear that the gas companies will try again. They want the companies to put
into writing that they will not pursue this in the future.
Our Pennsylvania Constitution says “The people have a right to clean air,
pure water, and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and
esthetic values of the environment.’ (Article 1. Section 27) Unfortunately,
some have forgotten these rights or choose to ignore them.
Reported by Dr. Sandra Folzer
Websites for information on gas drilling:

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