Sierra Watch, January, 2016 Issue

In This Issue

A Message From Jim Wylie - New SPG Chair

Hello Sierra Club members and followers in the Philadelphia area. For those of you who don't know me, I have served on the SPG Executive Committee as conservation chair for the last two years, volunteered with Beyond Coal projects and designed/edited our website.  Before I tell you more about myself and my vision for SPG, let me take a moment to thank Anne Lovatt for her leadership over the last two years as chair of the Southeastern PA Group (SPG) Executive Committee. During Anne’s tenure we have:
  • moved into a new clubhouse at City CoHo,
  • supported the election of a mayor that promises to be an environmental ally,
  • hosted prominent speakers like Michael Mann, John Nagle and Jeff Schmidt,
  • partnered with to fill 19 buses for the Peoples Climate March,
  • raised the awareness on several environmental issues (oil trains, pipelines, environmental justice, plight of monarch butterflies and more),
  • held picnics at Valley Forge and Bartram’s Garden.
And we have clearly increased our standing in the environmental community and government officials. SPG is getting things done and headed in the right direction.
I was relected for another 2-year term (2016-2017) along with Anne Lovatt, Dennis Winters, Prasad Ramnath, and John Butler.  New to the executive committee this year is Gerald Brown, an active volunteer from the Beyond Coal Campaign. Dennis Winters will remain Vice Chair and Treasurer; Emily Lambert-Davis secretary.  And I am very excited to be assuming the chairmanship of SPG and to have the opportunity to further expand SPG's influence in Southeastern PA.
I am 58 years old, or will be in a few days. Old enough to know that without environmental watchdogs, like Sierra Club members, we would be living in a polluted, treeless, smog-filled environment with corporate profit being the driving force behind everything we touch. I am proud to be counted as one of the whiners that let our legislators and responsible agencies know when our health or quality of life is at risk.
I am old enough to know that there are a lot of volunteers and would-be volunteers in the Philadelphia area who would like to contribute to an environmental cause, promote a clean and green future or just party with some tree-huggers. The Sierra Club is the place to join forces with like-minded volunteers.
But I’m not so old that I don’t see and appreciate the new (mostly digital) tools that we have available to us: web pages, blogs, tweets, facebook groups, meetups, doodle polls, webinars, prezis, youtube vids, crowd funding, online petitions, volunteerspots, shared office space and I’m sure a lot more that I haven’t discovered yet.
Thank you, Anne for getting us rolling. Now let’s take off. I’m looking forward to expanding the influence of SPG and the 8,000+ Sierra Club members in the greater Philadelphia area. If you want to be a part of the action this year, come to a meeting, join a committee, start a committee, write on our wall, call me, whatever you want to do. There’s a place for you. BTW – I like whiners.
Jim Wylie
Southeastern PA Group, Chair


Monthly Ex-Com Meetings

SPG Executive Committee meetings are held the first Wednesday of each month at 6:45pm at City CoHo at 2401 Walnut St in Philadelphia, 6:45pm. The entrance is on the parking lot side of the building - at the end of Sansom St.

Members and non-members of the Sierra Club are welcome. See our website for dial-in instructions.

Every Club Needs A Clubhouse

At the end of 2014 and through all of 2015 the SPG Executive Committee has held its monthly meetings at the City CoHo shared office space facility at 24th & Walnut. It has been a great experience and a glimpse into the future of small business, sustainable office space hosting. 
In 2015 Sierra Club was an entry level member of City CoHo, which meant that we could use shared desk space for about 5 hours a month and sign up for conference room time and have access to: white board walls, wifi, desks, flexible seating space, “the cone of silence”, the kitchen, ping pong and other rec areas, and a real confessional. All this space was created using lots of reclaimed materials and energy efficient products. 5 hours was enough for our monthly meetings and occasional get-togethers. We shared this time with the Sierra Club Beyond Coal staff person, Gary Lytle, who also had meetings and social functions in the space.
For 2016, we have increased our membership to a 3 days per week level – again, SPG and Beyond Coal. SPG’s “address” is now 2401 Walnut St, Philadelphia. While we don’t have a permanent office or even a desk with our name on it (because we don’t have the need, really), it is still good to have a home base. A clubhouse. And you can often find Gary there. Even if it is shared with some other organizations, like Delaware Valley Green Building Association, Sustainability Nexus, ThoughWorks, Del Riverkeeper, Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, Onpoint Nutrition and a host of one and two person enterprises. It’s really awesome and exciting. And there’s always an extra snack or beverage available in the kitchen – as long as you do your own dishes.
If you or your organization would like to create your own shared-space clubhouse, go to Tell them Sierra Club sent you.

Report From Paris - COP21

Dick Whiteford will present a powerpoint on what happened in Paris, what was in the agreement, the protest news event that some top scientists held, how little American news coverage there was, and how to keep the world temperature increase below 2 degrees C.

Peter Handler of will discuss a tax on carbon as a way to discourage greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) are greenhouse gasses containing carbon. Is a carbon tax better than cap/trade or government regulations? Where will the money go?

Post Paris Climate Conference Event

On December 19th, eleven local environmental and community organizations hosted a panel discussion titled “Paris Climate Talks: The Philadelphia Perspective.”  

More than 100 participants listened as two of Philadelphia’s climate Justice leaders talked about their experiences at the Paris Climate Conference -- the biggest climate summit in history--and reflected on how it will impact international policy and the local environmental movement.

 “We witnessed history as over 195 countries agreed and affirmed the need to tackle climate change,” said speaker Anthony Giancatarino, Director of the Energy Democracy and Food Equity Programs at the Center for Social Inclusion and chair of the policy committee at Green Justice Philly. “Yet, the agreement is just a step. If we truly want to create solutions, we need to center community, equity, and justice both within the US and across the globe.

The 2015 Paris Climate Conference was the first U.N. summit in over 20 years of negotiations that aimed to create a legally binding, global agreement on climate. One of the main points, agreed upon by nearly 200 countries, was to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius and to aim for only 1.5 degrees, a significant step forward for island nations that stand to lose their territory completely.

“The U.S. provided leadership and commitment in securing the Paris Accord while acknowledging its enormous greenhouse gas contributions,” said speaker Poune Saberi, a physician in occupational and environmental medicine who serves on the national and Philadelphia boards of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and is a member of Mayor Jim Kenney’s transition team.

She added, “We in Philadelphia recognize the grave public health threats of climate change for our region. We must aim to leap towards clean energy sources rather than building dirty coal and gas infrastructure.”

Both speakers highlighted what they witnessed as a global movement for climate justice that has reached a tipping point of heightened activism.  They noted that the US is the only country where the reality of climate change is disputed.

Organizations sponsoring the event were 350 Philadelphia, Clean Air Council, Citizens Climate Lobby-Philadelphia Chapter, Energy Coordinating Agency, Penn Environment, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility, Protecting Our Waters, Green Justice Philly, Penn Environment and Sierra Club-Beyond Coal Philadelphia.


 Photo taken by Sue Edwards:  (from left) Moderator Lori Braunstein, Dr. Poune Saberi and Anthony Giancatarino

What We Learned From Michael Mann

Michael Mann, professor of Meteorology at Penn State, spoke at a Sierra Club lecture at Bonnell Auditorium of the Community College of Philadelphia on Monday November 9. His talk was cosponsored by CCP Coalition for a Sustainable Future. Mann is a leader of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which with Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. His work was recognized by the Panel for its merit. The Hockey Stick, Mann's famous graph of earth surface temperatures over the last 1,000 years, was part of the 2001 Third Assessment Report of the IPCC.

Brunner Island Is Making Us Sick

What’s Sierra Club Philadelphia’s Beyond Coal Campaign up to this year?  It’s all about Brunner Island!
A coal-firing power plant on Brunner Island has contributed significantly to the smog problems of Philadelphia, increasing the health risks for people living in our area.  It’s in York County upwind of Philadelphia and is the single biggest contributor to asthma /cancer-inducing smog air pollution in Southeast Pennsylvania. Our state protection agency, the Department of Environmental Protection wants to let it off the hook, just because installing equipment to reduce its pollution (by some calculations, up to 90%) are "too expensive" for the old facility.
Beyond Coal wants the DEP and Brunner Island to know health comes before profits!
This year we will be holding rallies and events throughout Philly and York County to let people know what’s really going on and what we can do to create meaningful change.
Please join us in our mission to protect our families and our communities. Our new Adopt-A-Legislator program will give Sierra Club members a chance to meet with their local officials and state legislators to tell them how we feel.  If you would like to meet with your legislators to tell them we won’t stand for a free pass at Brunner Island, please contact Beyond Coal Philly at the email address below.  
Also you can join us for our weekly volunteers call where we will discuss our next steps.
 Thank you for making a difference!

Thank you for making a difference!

To participate in the Adopt A Legislator program or to volunteer with Beyond Coal Philadelphia, please email Gary Lytle at
To join our weekly Tuesday, 7 pm volunteer team call, dial 866-501-6174, then pin 37008521892

Eastwick In Action

The residents of Eastwick can finally breathe a "partial" sigh of relief in knowing that the Korman Corporation will no longer be a major topic of conversation whenever improving the Eastwick area is discussed.

These residents, members of the Eastwick Action Committee and the Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition (EFNC), a coalition of civic associations that includes the Friends of Heinz Refuge, the Sierra Club, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the Darby Creek Valley Association have been fighting for years and some community members for decades to make sure that Korman did not get the chance to build 722 apartments and parking spaces for more than 1,000 cars in the undeveloped area between the Heinz Refuge and the Philadelphia International Airport. That area has also been designated as a flood zone.

The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) and the Korman Corporation began to seriously negotiate the return of the 135 acres to the city last year. The residents, after hearing of these negotiations at that time, nervously awaited the final outcome of this process.

On December 23, 2015, Brian Abernathy, Executive Director of the PRA, called members of EFNC and its lawyer, and representatives from Councilman Kenyetta Johnson's office to a meeting at PRA's offices. It was at this meeting that the members of PRA Board voted unanimously to purchase the 135 acres from the Korman Corporation. The room erupted with applause! The land in question has now been purchased and returned to the city. And largely due to EFNC’s success in galvanizing the community to demand a role in determining the community’s future, the PRA has committed to a community planning process in conjunction with consigning this 50-year-old urban redevelopment deal to history. This is an exciting opportunity for the community.

The above is a brief summary of what is happening in Eastwick. You can get a more detailed report on the above information and other issues about Eastwick by going to the East Friends and Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) at: https://eastwick

Earl Wilson
Eastwick Resident
Eastwick Action Committee
Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition

 Donate to SPG

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