In Chester, activists pledge to remain vigilant even with the presidential pause on new LNG export projects – Delco Times (2/1/24)
Environmental advocates stood outside of Chester City Hall on Thursday to praise President Joe Biden’s pause on permitting LNG export projects under development and to reiterate that their work is not done.
“For this particular community, who was under the threat of the largest LNG (facility) on the East Coast, we believe that it is another nail in the coffin of Penn America,” Zulene Mayfield, chairperson of Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living, said. “However, we are not going to be complacent on understanding that this is a pause … We’re not going to revel in the fact that this is a pause because pauses are lifted.”
On Friday, Biden paused all pending approvals of LNG terminals due to a potential link to climate change. Chester Mayor Stefan Roots said that meant the 100-acre Penn America Energy liquefied natural gas terminal they were planning for the city, but had not yet entered the permitting process, was “dead in the water.”
Even with their opposition to this project, Mayfield said her group is not anti-capitalist but wants family-sustaining, safe jobs for her community.
“We want those jobs that are not going to kill us as we try to earn a living,” she said. “We want those jobs where we have the ability to breathe and our children can breathe. And, we shouldn’t have to balance it with the price of a paycheck.”
The state representative in Chester spoke of the pricelessness of public health.
“No dollar can buy the health risk of family and friends here in our community,” state Rep. Carol Kazeem, D-159, of Chester, said, adding that she’d like to see partnerships among those who can find solutions to create a way to create jobs and keep communities safe.
State Rep. Joseph Hohenstein, D-177, of Philadelphia, served on the Philadelphia LNG Task Force. When its report backing LNG terminals in Southeastern Pennsylvania was released late last year, he issued a minority report, including comments from opponents such as Mayfield and Roots.
He said he got involved because his neighborhoods in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia were among those suggested as a possible location.
When it was determined that Chester was a focus, Hohenstein said, “You guys showed up to make sure that the idea of putting yet another polluting facility … here in Chester that already has dealt with so much on the environmental front, it just made no sense.”
He said that’s something Biden has recognized.
“We do have significant liquefied natural gas infrastructure to take the gas that is being produced in Pennsylvania and in the United States and be able to have it go out of the United States and help our economy,” Hohenstein said. “Great, but, that is not the future. The future is in sustainable energy sources.”
He said investments need to be made in wind, solar, geothermal and other clean energy sources.
“The investments have to be made in the same communities that have been impacted by the polluting industries,” Hohenstein said, adding that the clean energy jobs need to be union.
Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, said her organization stands with the people of Chester.
“President Biden’s acknowledgement that the climate impacts, the community impacts and the economic impacts of continuing the export of liquefied natural gas overseas is costing too much and is detrimental to our environment and to our public health,” she said.
She noted that Biden has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by 50% to 52%.
“We can’t get there if we continue to frack, if we continue to develop fossil fuels, if we continue to export liquefied natural gas overseas,” Carluccio said, adding that the U.S. Department of Energy analysis would thoroughly examine impacts to public health and the economy.
The mayor said he and Mayfield’s group share alignment when it comes to the LNG terminal issue.
“As far as LNG is concerned, it was simple,” Roots said. “Yeah, they came to me early. They showed me these pretty pictures of these terminals. They told me that there were going to be all these jobs and as I looked at it, I was like, ‘Well, after it’s constructed, there aren’t a lot of jobs.’ ”
And, he said the money the city would receive was no different than what they get from Harrah’s or Covanta.