June: Comings & Goings

Interfaith Walk for Green Energy Culminates After 100 miles
An interfaith, intergenerational group of activists concluded their 100-mile trek through PECO’s service area, a demonstration dubbed the Walk for Green Jobs and Justice. 

About 40 walkers began the journey May 8 at Morris Chapel Baptist Church in North Philly, and upon their return to the city on May 22, they were joined by national environmental justice leaders Bill McKibben and Bishop Dwayne Royster for the final mile.

For over a year, Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild (POWER) and the Earth Quaker Action Team—who co-organized and promoted the walk—have calling on PECO, the state’s largest utility, to focus on solar installations.

“Every single day, folks tell me about struggling to support their families. They need jobs, not programs. It’s time to build a green city that works for all,” said the Rev. Holston, executive director of POWER. “It won’t be easy, but PECO can change.”

New Data Reveals Increases in Methane Pollution
New data from the Energy Information Agency reveals that methane emissions from the natural gas industry are on the rise, and emissions are increasing faster than production. 

Natural gas production from wells in Pennsylvania increased by more than 12 percent between 2014 and 2015, EIA reported. But the most recent inventory data show that between 2014 and 2015, methane emissions rose more than 20 percent. 

“Any time emissions are rising faster than production, it’s clear that voluntary efforts to cut emissions are not working,” said Rob Altenburg, director of PennFuture’s Energy Center.  

These inventories are the industry’s self-reported data, and the Environmental Protection Agency notes that actual emissions could be considerably higher than what is being reported.

Villanova Student One of Five U.S. Delegates Selected for Agriculture Summit
Villanova University student Julie Greenwald is among a group of five youngagriculture leaders to represent the United States at the Youth Ag-Summit in Brussels, Belgium. The five U.S. representatives are part of a delegation of 100 from 49 countries to participate in a think tank Oct. 9 to 13 focused on identifying sustainable solutions to address global food security.

Solarize Philly Pushes for Solar Roofs and Green Jobs
City Council and the Philadelphia Energy Authority announced in April the launch of Solarize Philly (#SolarizePHL), a residential solar energy program that hopes to expand the adoption of new technologies.

Solarize Philly will be administered by the authority as part of the Philadelphia Energy Campaign, a citywide $1 billion, 10-year investment to upgrade buildings, homes and businesses. Training programs for solar installers will be offered in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia.

“This monumental partnership with the School District of Philadelphia is important to ensuring that our children have opportunities to expound on their educational experiences with relevant work experience,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. “It behooves us to do our very best to ‘get it right’ the first time around and to hand future generations a healthy and sustainable planet.”

The first residential solar sign-up period begins July 1. Interested homeowners can have their homes assessed and receive a project proposal.

House Bill Would Prevent Municipalities from Reducing Use of Plastic Bags
The Pennsylvania House passed legislation in April that would prevent local governments from enacting a ban, fee, tax or surcharge on the use of disposable plastic bags at retail stores.

House Bill 1071 passed the House by a vote of 102-87 and now moves to the Senate.

“This is a bill driven by national plastic bag manufacturer Novolex, who owns the Helix Poly plant in Milesburg, Pa.,” said state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. “Milesburg is represented by one of the House members sponsoring the bill.”

Green Construction and Renewal Projects begin
Fairmount Park Conservancy began construction April 20 on the Centennial Commons project along Parkside Avenue in West Fairmount Park, which is expected to be completed in fall. The layout includes play spaces for kids, seating and picnic areas, landscaping and a rain garden.

The project is part of the national Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative, an effort to revitalize cities by connecting parks, libraries, community centers and other public spaces.

“Centennial Commons is an outstanding example of what happens when our public agencies work together to bring innovative projects to our Parks and Recreation facilities,” said Mayor Jim Kenney when Phase 1 began.

In Northeast Philly, community members, city officials and state representatives celebrated on May 15 the start of construction for the K&T Trail, which extends 1.2 miles from the Frankford Boat Launch to Magee Avenue along the Delaware River. The K&T Trail follows the path of the former Kensington and Tacony Railroad and is one of the links in Philly’s developing multiuse trail network, known as the Circuit Trails.

On May 1, members of Kensington Community Food Co-op broke ground at the future site of their new storefront on Coral Street. KCFC has raised $1.5 million for the market, which will include a grocery, café and bar.

Leadership Changes at Conservancy Orgs
Owen Franklin, AICP, will serve as the new leader of Pennsylvania’s Trust for Public Land. Franklin most recently served as Promise Zone Initiative director at the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment & Opportunity.

Robert C. F. Willson has been elected president of the board of French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust. As FPCCT celebrates its 50th anniversary, longtime board of directors’ president Cary Leptuck of Elverson, Pennsylvania, has retired as officer of the board after 11 years of service.