February 18, 2016

Environmental Justice

climatechangejusticeFor decades, the South Philly oil refinery has been poisoning local residents. In 2012, the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) refinery was bought by the Carlyle Group, a Wall Street private equity firm. Now the new CEO of the refinery, Phil Rinaldi, a Wall Street executive, is pushing his corporate agenda for Philadelphia. He is assembling politicians, CEOs and academics in order to lobby for more refineries, more oil trains, more pipelines — all on the quest to make Philly the oil and gas capital of the Northeast.


We know that the South Philly refinery is already responsible for 72% of the toxic air in the city, and that asthma rates, particularly for children, are much higher that the national average. We also know that after storms like Hurricane Sandy, we need to stop the expansion of oil and gas if we’re going to address global warming. The destruction of our environment often hits the communities that need the most help first.

The area around the refinery and the neighborhoods that oil trains run through are low-income, black and brown families, as shown in our report in conjunction with Penn Environment, and Forest Ethics, “Environmental Justice and Oil Trains in Pennsylvania.

Though many of these families have already felt the negative health effects as a result of refinery pollution, they are almost never included in the conversation when it comes to expanding.

Our city needs many things — more funding for schools, an economy that employs everyone who wants a job, clean air and water for all residents. Right now, powerful people in the city are pushing their agenda — to continue poisoning Philly’s air and to bring in more profits for Big Oil. The South Philly refinery is even in a tax-free zone, meaning that it doesn’t give anything back to the Philadelphia economy, and takes massive amounts of money away from the public schools.

National Clean Power Plan


On August 3, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final Carbon Pollution Emissions Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, also known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The Clean Power Plan sets carbon dioxide emission standards for power plants and establishes customized goals for states to reduce carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide accounts for approximately 84-percent of all U.S. GHG emissions. Under the federal Clean Air Act, each state is required to develop a state-specific compliance plan to meet individual state targets set by EPA or be subject to the Federal Plan.

Pennsylvania will draft a state plan to comply with the CPP that is tailor-made for our state’s economy and citizens, protecting our indigenous resources and our position as a net energy exporter. In order to develop a specific Pennsylvania plan, input from the public is necessary.

ACTION United is dedicated to implementing the Clean Power Plan in PA by reaching communities by organizing them and working with local legislators to implement it.

Read the Clean Power Plan (PDF)