Hello Councilman Squilla and other concerned parties,
I am a Bella Vista resident, doctor, and father who is very concerned about what has been going on in Philadelphia lately in regards to the fossil fuel industry. I’m speaking for other health care workers, neighbors, and concerned Philadelphians.
There have been several oil train derailments in the country already this year, the most devastating in West Virginia this month, ruining the water supply. This can and will happen in Philadelphia. The Delaware or Schuylkill rivers will be further contaminated. Philadelphia Energy Solutions, already the largest processor of Bakken Shale Oil on the East coast, is planning to expand their operations. As you know Philadelphia has had several very close calls, with train cars full of oil literally dangling off bridges.
Furthermore, there have been several black smoke fires lately, which released toxins causing short term cardiovascular and respiratory problems (including increased risk of asthma and heart attacks, as well as long term increased risks of cancers with ongoing cumulative exposure).
We are also furious that some members of the Philadelphia political leadership have been entertaining the idea of allowing us to become a “Fossil Fuel Energy Hub." This is morally, environmentally, and socially irresponsible, and will literally derail the ongoing rebirth of our great city. Philadelphia is already a polluted mess, and to increase this would cause droves of families and progressive types to leave the area, creating a brain drain, and a disproportionate exodus of those with financial resources who would otherwise have a lot to offer the city. Those without the resources to pick up and leave will predictably suffer ill consequences.
A small step to address the focused problem of oil trains running through our city has been brought to the agenda of city council by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. I implore you to support any efforts to keep these trains out of Philadelphia.
On a larger scale I fear for the continued undermining of the progress Philadelphia has made in terms of leading the country, redefining itself as a Green City. To go back on this promise, and make Philadelphia a Fossil Fuel Energy Hub, and to continue to allow Philadelphia Energy Solutions to pollute our environment, waterways, and air would be a betrayal of a promise made to all Philadelphians. Frankly, we should stand up for ourselves and work to close this refinery, which should never have been allowed to exist amid our population of 1.6 million people.
My family, and families like mine, will certainly leave this region if it keeps going down these polluting paths. “Jobs” in the fossil fuel energy industry are not worth it. As an idealistic physician who trained in the city, I have become increasingly alarmed by young patients of mine with new diagnoses of cancer. Of course cancer is multifactorial, but we should do all we can to reduce the chance of another 18 year-old about to go off to Brown University finding a tennis ball-sized mass of lymphoma in his neck, or a 32 year old pregnant mother of three being told she has maybe a year to live due to metastatic breast cancer, or an 18 year old inner city black male who survived his violent neighborhood only to be told he has metastatic lung cancer. I could go on, but I digress. Please make the environment a top priority. It is the only sustainable, moral, and courageous investment. Enough damage has already been done.
Please contact me if there is anything I can do to help in these regards, or whether a brief meeting or phone call with you would be possible.
Thank you for your leadership and time.