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PES Refinery Responsible for 20% of GHG Emissions, Yet City Says Private Entities Control its Future over Residents Well-Being
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PES Refinery Responsible for 20% of GHG Emissions, Yet City Says Private Entities Control its Future over Residents Well-Being

City Releases PES Report 2 Days Before Thanksgiving.

Two days before Thanksgiving, the City of Philadelphia released a Report on evaluating the PES refinery. Titled “A Close Call and an Uncertain Future: An assessment of the past, present, and next steps for Philadelphia’s largest refinery,” the city said that despite explosions on June 21st that narrowly avoided disaster, it “has no direct control over this privately-owned site.”

The City held six “Refinery Advisory Meetings” over the past few months to hear from the points of “view of all stakeholders, including from those most directly impacted by the refinery – nearby residents and PES employees.”

One PES Refinery, HUGE Environmental Impact

The report discusses the “economic benefits” over the first 8 or so pages, citing $2.1 billion as an economic impact to the City, with 6300 full-time jobs.

The environmental and human cost to this? The refinery was (prior to June 21st):

  • The largest stationary source of air pollution in the city.
  • 20% of TOTAL GHG emissions for the city
  • 9% of the city’s fine particle emissions (PM2.5)
  • 467,600 lbs air toxics released annually since 2014. (Air Toxics are chemicals that may have long-term risks for cancer or other serious health or environmental effects, including benzene, dioxin, and formaldehyde.)
  • accounts for 56.65% of total toxic emissions from larger sources in Philadelphia in 2016 according to EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory.
  • 8th largest emitter of GHG in PA

This has major health impacts, too. According to the National Cancer Institute, Philadelphia has the highest cancer rate of any large US City, with an estimated 541 of every 100,000 people will get cancer.

The surrounding neighborhood closest to the refinery are most directly impacted by air pollution, and disproportionately populated by low-income populations and those of color. Of the 113,271 residents within 1 mile of the refinery fence line, 60.4% of those are black/African American.

UN Projects Global Temps on Track to rise 3.2 Degrees Celsius by end of Century without drastic action, yet City refuses to intervene in 1/5 GHG emissions & #1 emitter of toxic pollutants in the city.

According to a new US Climate report, released today, even if the world meets the commitments under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the world is heading to 3.2 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels.

If the world has any hope to stay close to the (still terrible but somewhat OK scenario), emissions need to fall by 7.6 percent over the next decade.

Mayor Kenney has pledged to reduce Philadelphia’s carbon emissions by 26 and 28% by 2025. The math would add up that he would be 76% of the way there by simply refusing to reopen the refinery site to fossil fuels.

If the City of Philadelphia took its climate goals seriously, it wouldn’t consider a scenario where the PES Oil Refinery site, which emitted between 2.9 and 3.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, can open up again to maintain our dependence on fossil fuels.

Head photo: NBC10, Twitter


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Julie Hancher
Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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