Sunday, December 7, 2014

Protesting the Council for Growth's Investors Meeting to Make Philly an Energy Hub

On December 5, 2014, a coalition of environmental groups protested an investors meeting directed at making Philly an "Energy Hub" for natural gas from the Marcellus Shale Formation. The meeting was the focus of an article in the Philadelphia magazine, entitled, "Philadelphia + a Pipeline (or Two) = America’s Next Energy Hub."  The agenda for the investors meeting was entitled, "Greater Philadelphia: The Next Energy Hub."  Of course, we've been fighting to make Pennsylvania an energy hub for sustainable forms of energy for years, but this meeting was focused on making Philly a depot for dirty fossil fuels.  Our activists made sure that the investors gathering at the meeting were aware that the citizens of Philly were not going to accept the pollution and environmental degradation that inevitably accompanies fossil fuel development.  In response to the media advisory, our protests were covered by, the local CBS affiliate, NPR, and other news sites

Here are some photos from the protest: 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hiking with Veterans in the Wissahickon on August 23

On August 23 at 10:45am, we will hike with veterans in the Wissahickon region of Fairmount Park.  The hike will begin at Valley Green Inn, follow Forbidden Drive and another trail , and a final leg along Rex Ave to Germantown Ave in  Chestnut Hill, where we will have a bite to eat.  Public transportation will be available in Chestnut Hill. 

The hike is 2 miles long; half of it is flat along Forbidden Drive, and the latter half climbs from the Wissahickon Valley up to Chestnut Hill, initially on a trail, then a cobblestone street, and finally, on a paved street. The total climb is ~300 feet in elevation, most of it over about a half mile starting from mile marker 1.  So it's a good climb toward the end to the hike.

The hike route is shown by the blue dotted line in the Google map below:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sierra Club Hiring an Associate Organizing Representative in Philadelphia

The Sierra Club is looking for an Associate Organizing Representative in Philadelphia, PA. Help continue Pennsylvania's transition beyond coal to clean energy by recruiting and engaging volunteers, working with media and cultivating grassroots networks in the Philadelphia area.

Interested candidates should have more than 1 year experience in grassroots organizing, strategy development, coalition building and media relations in environmental, social justice, political campaigns or related efforts." For all the details, and to apply, click here:

The Sierra Club's innovative Beyond Coal campaign ( is a nationwide grassroots effort to eliminate coal's contribution to global warming no later than 2030 and replace the existing coal infrastructure with a clean energy economy fueled by wind, solar, and geothermal.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Activists Testify and Rally at Clean Power Plan Hearings at EPA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

On July 29, twenty seven activists traveled by bus to Washington DC to support the Clean Power Plan rules, and to suggest that the EPA make the regulations even stronger. This rule proposes to regulate carbon pollution from existing power plants. Among the group were seven vets from the Veterans Multiservice Center. Seven activists that traveled with the group testified at the hearing, and everyone attended an energetic rally outside the EPA headquarters. Ben & Jerry's provided free ice cream all day, and bicyclists towed trailers carrying signs calling for "Clean Air Now." A children's brigade organized by Mom's Clean Air Force submitted a banner full of handprints to a surprised EPA officer. The testimonials in favor of curbing carbon far outnumbered those opposed (117 to 13 were tallied up to a break in the proceedings prior to our departure). Public hearings were held in four US cities, and a comment period will remain open until Oct. 16. We encourage you to submit your comments prior to the end of the comment period, after which the EPA will finalize the rule.

Our activists are testifying in the Pittsburgh hearings also

Monday, July 14, 2014

Clean Power Plan

The Clean Power Plan proposes to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. EPA's plan is a commonsense, flexible approach to protect public health, spur innovation, and create jobs under the President's Climate Action Plan

Some Background Info
Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions From Existing Power Plants:
Options to Ensure Electric System Reliability
– Analysis Group

This paper addresses whether EPA’s actions to regulate GHG emissions from existing power plants will give rise to electric system reliability problems and explains why it will not.

Climate Change and Your Health – Union of Concerned Scientists
Climate change has significant implications for our health. Rising temperatures will likely lead to more frequent and severe heat waves, heavier rainstorms and flooding, and increased air pollution. All of these changes could pose serious, and costly, risks to public health.
The Climate Change and Your Health initiative is a UCS effort designed to highlight some of the major health risks associated with climate change in the United States and attempt to quantify their impacts. We also include information to help your family, your community, and our country prepare for—and try to mitigate—the growing health risks of a warming world. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Labor and Climate Justice: Moving from “Jobs OR the Environment” to “Jobs FOR the Environment”

Wednesday, June 18, 6:45pm to 9pm
AFSCME District 1199C, 1319 Locust St.

  • Barbara Rahke, Director of PhilaPOSH (Philadelphia Area Project on Occupational Safety and Health)

Global warming is causing serious harm to people across the US and around the world. There is a growing understanding that a rapid transition to a renewable, clean energy economy is essential. A climate justice movement is evolving, seeking to rebuild our economy in a way that protects and is fair to workers and to members of all of our communities. It’s not true that we must choose between jobs and the environment. Increasingly, people are working together to push for good jobs and a liveable world. The speakers will share their thinking about how to forge labor/environmental alliances and invite a conversation about what we can do it here in Philly.

Sponsored by (list in formation):
  • AFSCME District 1199C
  • AFSCME District Council 33
  • AFSCME District Council 47
  • BlueGreen Alliance of Pennsylvania
  • Caucus of Working Educators
  • PennFuture
  • Pennsylvania Federation, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees/Teamsters
  • Philadelphia Area Jobs with Justice
  • PhilaPOSH (Philadelphia Area Project on Occupational Safety and Health)
  • Sierra Club SPG (Southeastern PA Group)
  • United Steelworkers Local 404
  • 350 Philadelphia

Join us for a discussion about how labor and environmental activists here in Philly can work together to stop catastrophic climate change and create economic justice. Please let us know if you plan to come! Click here to RSVP.

Questions? Contact John Braxton at

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Rally for Appalachia: Stand Up for Clean Water on June 4th

When: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 12:00 Noon
Where: EPA Region 3 Offices at 17th & Arch
Who: Environmental Activists like YOU that want to exercise our right of free speech
Why: The people and wildlife of Appalachia are not being protected from coal mines and its supporting industries.

This is Why We Need The EPA to Step Up for Clean Water!
Kentucky has little regulation of coal ash, and State regulators don't enforce those on the books.  The head of the North Carolina environmental agency spent 28 years working for Duke Energy -- responsible for both slurry spills -- before being appointed by Governor Pat McCrory.  Duke Energy contributed $1.1 million to McCrory’s campaigns and groups that supported him. Pennsylvania has the basis for strong regulations on coal mining and waste, but fails woefully in enforcement. Tennessee regulations lack requirements for protection of surface and subsurface waters and lack emergency action plans. Virginia fails to protect the public from coal ash by imposing basic safeguards at coal ash dumps. State regulators in West Virginia routinely fail to hold the coal industry accountable for its pollution.

State Regulators are NOT protecting their Citizens:

West Virginia chemical spill leaves 300,000 without tap water
REUTERS | January 11, 2014 By Ann Moore

W.Va. coal prep plant spills slurry into creek

Associated PressAssociated Press – February 11, 2014

Duke starts dredging river as coal ash deal dumped

Associated PressBy MICHAEL BIESECKER and MITCH WEISS | Associated Press – Tue, Feb 11, 2014

Second coal ash dump leak sends toxins into North Carolina river

ReutersBy Eric M. Johnson | Reuters – February 19, 2014

'Significant' slurry spill blackens Kanawha creek

Ken Ward Jr. Monday, February 24, 2014
More than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry poured into an eastern Kanawha County stream, blackening roughly six miles of Fields Creek, and some of the slurry made it into the Kanawha River.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Meet Andrew Brady, Organizer with USILive

Andrew Brady, who organizes the online campaign USILive, which is supported by unions such as UNITE the Union (UK), the Teamsters, & the Metalworkers (Brazil) is coming to Philly to talk about the work he's doing to build a global, online solidarity network.

Come out and meet him!
When: Thursday, March 27 at 4:00pm (Click here to copy from our Google Calendar)
Where: SEIU Local 32BJ District 1201, 455 N. 5th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123 (map)

We're having a formal meeting at SEIU 32BJ District 1201 at 4 pm, and then we'll probably walk over to a local bar for a happy hour afterwards.

For the latest info, see the Facebook Event:

Interview with Andrew Brady

FREE Screening of Gasland Part II

Join us for free screenings of the award-winning sequel to Gasland, directed by Josh Fox, that updates us on the state of fracking within the U.S. and highlights stories from around the globe.

What: Gasland Part II
When: Tuesday, March 25th Two showings: 3:00 and 5:30 p.m.
Where: Room S2-3 of the Winnett Student Life Building, Community College of Philadelphia (on the west side of 17th Street, 1/2 block south of Spring Garden Street)

A short discussion about fracking in Pennsylvania and what we can do about it will follow the film.

Open to all.

FREE popcorn and Lancaster County apple cider.

Cosponsored by:
CCP Coalition for a Sustainable Future
Sierra Club
Green Cycle Alliance (CCP's environmental and cycling student club)
Food & Water Watch

Also coming up in April, date TBA: Groundswell Rising, a Philadelphia premier of another film about citizens rising up against extreme energy extraction.
Contact: Margaret Stephens
Community College of Philadelphia
1700 Spring Garden Street, W3-10
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 751-8869

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Philly Beyond Coal Campaign Protests Coal-Industry Water Pollution at EPA Region 3 Headquarters

Philly Sierra Club Beyond Coal activists teamed up with activists from Rising Tide, Protecting Our Waters, Earth Quaker Action Team, Mountain Justice and other allies from Appalachia to put on the second rally at the EPA this year, and the third event the group has staged since the organizations started working together in late 2012. The two actions were the most successful series of rallies that the Philly Beyond Coal Team has organized in the last three years, because of the high turnout, diversity of groups involved in planning and turnout, volunteer-led process used in planning that involved groups from Appalachia and Philadelphia who hadn’t worked together, the creativity and forcefulness of the events, and the press coverage received (two media outlets covered each event for a total of four media hits).  It’s telling that the TV news crew that questioned the EPA for their reaction to the second protest were told, "The state of West Virginia is overseeing the clean-up and the EPA is ready to help if asked."  This reply makes it clear that the EPA is leaving water quality up to states that are in cahoots with the coal companies.

In blowing snow and subfreezing temperatures, dozens of Sierra Club and Rising Tide Philly activists marched from Love Park to the EPA Region 3 headquarters carrying a 30 foot long black plastic “river,” (made by volunteer Dave Moscatello) part of it polluted with spots of chemicals labeled with their side effects, and part of it blue and filled with fish—the goal we seek. A “hazmat-suited EPA representative” (Eli Schewel of Rising Tide Philly) led the march. Drums punctuated the air as the group arrived at the EPA, where the sidewalk began to fill with fellow demonstrators asking, “What is the EPA going to do about coal industry pollution of Appalachian rivers and streams and threats to communities' health?”

Against a backdrop of the blackened “river” and a huge puppet representing the EPA, Johanna DeGraffenreid from Coal River Mountain Watch in West Virginia spoke about the devastation and illness that plague Appalachia wherever mountain top removal coal mining occurs.  She also talked about the numerous leaks and spills of coal ash, coal ash slurry, and coal industry chemicals in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina that have left residents worried about their health and the safety of their children—all with no response from the EPA.  She explained that state departments that are charged with protecting the environment are in bed with the coal industry and turn a blind eye to these recurring tragedies.  And the EPA Region 3 office here in Philly is charged with overseeing coal-mining pollution in the mid-Atlantic states.  She asked when they are going to fulfill their duty.

Coryn Wolk from Philadelphia's Protecting Our Waters extended the theme of fossil fuel pollution by highlighting the parallel struggles in Pennsylvania with natural gas fracking, which causes water despoliation and the resulting incidence of illness and birth defects. She talked about the need to fight on both fronts and to work together to get EPA to stop the poisoning of our communities both in Philadelphia and Appalachia.

Sierra Club volunteer Sue Edwards added that the bitter cold we were experiencing is part of the story of global warming, which alters the jet stream and causes disrupted, record-breaking, weather of all kinds.  What is needed, she said, is shifting from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.  She led a chant:  FOSSIL FUELS LEAK AND SPILL, WIND AND SUN NEVER WILL!  More chants followed, including one spontaneously led by Vietnam veteran Gerald Brown:  EPA, CLEAN IT UP!  ALL THIS FILTH HAS GOT TO STOP!  He was there with a group from the Veterans Multi-Service Center who have become frequent participants in hearings and rallies aimed at stopping fossil fuel pollution.

The Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign in Philadelphia garnered coveted TV news coverage when  WCAU ran an accurate thirty second segment on the early evening news, including a quote from an EPA spokesperson saying, “a clean-up is underway.”  What we need is an end to the spills, not just a clean-up in the aftermath.  A photographer from the Metro, the daily free commuter newspaper read by thousands, took photos, one of which ran on page two the next day with a caption that succinctly expressed why we were there:  Protesters ask "Where is the EPA?  Protesters with the Sierra Club marched to the US Environmental Protection Agency's offices in Center City to denounce mountaintop-removal coal mining and chemical leaks in West Virginia that led to hundreds of thousands of people without access to potable water.

News Coverage on WCAU TV

Pictures on Flickr

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Crowd Tells EPA Region 3 Office in Philadelphia: You Hold the Key to Health of Appalachia

[Philadelphia, PA] Over 75 chanting, singing people braved the single-digit wind chill on Jan. 29 to rally outside the EPA regional office  in center city Philadelphia, calling for action to end the destruction of Appalachian mountains, streams and waterways. EPA Region 3 covers the Mid-Atlantic including Virginia and West Virginia where coal companies have leveled more than 500 mountains using millions of tons of dynamite and have polluted thousands of miles of rivers and streams.

Activists from Sierra Club in West Virginia, Southwest Virginia and Pennsylvania joined with members of Rising Tide,  Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), the Alliance for Appalachia, Occupy Sandy, Swarthmore College Mountain Justice, Protecting Our Waters, and veterans from a Philadelphia vet's service center to pressure the EPA to take action to protect Appalachian waterways.

The rally included Marley Green, Sierra Club field organizer from Virginia, who spoke about the importance of getting EPA action to end the practice of Mountain Top Removal (MTR) coal mining.  Junior Walk from West Virginia described the nightmare of destruction in his community, showing jugs of brown well water contaminated by mountaintop removal.  He reported on a meeting with EPA officials earlier in the day, which he said left the Appalachian activists unsatisfied.  “They think the answer is to allow more coal mining!” he said.

Confronting a large puppet representing the coal industry (with dollar signs for eyes) were people in EPA hazmat suits,  and a “die-in” representing people poisoned by their water.  A large black chain represented the way communities are locked into dirty water and its health impacts.  As the names of the heavy metals and other pollutants were read out, people “died”by falling onto the frigid sidewalk.

Gulf War veteran Thomas Freeman spoke about having defended his country and still needing to defend its people from environmental destruction.

Eli Schewel of Rising Tide talked about the importance of combating environmental injustice and the positive development of unity among the variety of forces that went into planning this demonstration.

Sue Edwards, Sierra Club Beyond Coal volunteer, talked about how it takes an act of faith to come out in the cold trying to change decisions that seem beyond our control.  She cited how each step we take builds our capacity, shows us our hidden talents, builds our skills, firms up alliances, and brings us closer to winning, “because we're on the right side of history.”

MTR mining, one form of “extreme fossil fuel extraction,” is particularly devastating to communities.  Once mountains are cleared of trees and reduced to rubble, the coal is extracted (using chemicals such as the one that leaked into the Elk River in West Virginia recently), and the remaining soil and rock is dumped into surrounding river valleys. The streams in those valleys become dead zones and well water becomes unfit for use as large quantities of poisonous chemicals such as arsenic, mercury and lead leach into waterways at toxic levels.  The EPA and independent scientists have repeatedly documented that waters downstream of mountaintop removal are harmed by high levels of pollution. In 2010,
the EPA issued a guidance to protect Appalachian streams. But this guidance is non- binding and states have shown repeatedly they are unable or unwilling to enforce the provisions.  Coal industry influence smothers democracy.

-- Karen Melton and Sue Edwards

The Alliance for Appalachia is a regional coalition with the goals of ending mountaintop removal mining, putting a halt to destructive coal technologies, and supporting a sustainable, just economy in Appalachia.

Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) is a Quaker organization working to build a just and sustainable economy through nonviolent direct action. The EQAT project BLAM! (Bank Like Appalachia Matters!) is a strategic effort to get PNC Bank out of the business of financing mountaintop removal.

Rising Tide is an international grassroots network organizing actions against the causes of climate change and towards a just transition to a non-carbon society. It was organized in 2000 to coordinate responses to the UN Climate Conference.

The Sierra Club is America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2 million members and supporters nationwide. The Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying and litigation.



Press Coverage:
Metro, Jan 30., 2014 on Page 4
WHYY Radio and on Jan. 30, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mountaintop Removal Mining Information Session and Social Event

Sierra Club Social Event
Followed by Lecture/Discussion on Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining Monday, January 20 - MLK Day
Ross Commons, 2nd Floor, 34th & Powelton, Drexel University

   6:00pm - Socializing, Food, Live Music
   7:00pm - Short Videos and Discussion
   8:30pm - Goodbye

n Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a Sierra Club social event will be held on the Drexel campus, followed by a educational session. Guest speaker, Frank Schaller, will give a short presentation, and a Sierra Club activist will lead the discussion on the impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining and what we can do about it. 

Live music will be performed by the band, Kate and Charlie, who will play popular acoustical selections. Complimentary food, beverages (non-alcoholic) and desserts will be served. Come out and enjoy this Happy Hour event celebrating the New Year and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
282 N 34th St - Ross Commons

In addition to the Drexel Sierra Student Coalition and members of the Philadelphia Veterans Center, the general public is invited. We will ask attendees to sign a petition and encourage them to attend the Jan. 29 rally at the EPA in support of clean water regulations for regions impacted by mountain top removal mining.

Dustin White of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition Describes the Appalachian View of Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining.

Eli Schewel Explains the Conductivity Rule and Why Its Important for EPA to Adopt It