(Philadelphia, Pa.) − June 14, 2018 – On June 12, the day of an appeals hearing, Senator Sharif Street took a strong stand for his constituents’ health, and submitted a letter to the City’s License & Inspection Review Board, requesting that they rescind the City’s Air Permit for SEPTA’s proposed natural gas fired power plant in Nicetown.  Five State Elected Officials representing NW Philadelphia – Senator Art Haywood, Representative Rosita Youngblood, Representative Christopher Rabb, Representative Stephen Kinsey and Representative Isabella Fitzgerald – endorsed the Senator’s letter by signing on. 

The proposed plant is to operate next to the Transit Authority’s Midvale Bus Facility at 4301 Wissahickon Ave 19140. 

The six legislators consider the choice of the Nicetown location for SEPTA’s project to have unfairly targeted a low income, predominantly African American neighborhood, as bearers of the burden of increased air pollution, with public health impacts such as asthma, cardiac disease, dementia, and permanently impaired cognitive development for children.  

The traditional practice of placing polluting fossil fuel projects in communities with similar demographics to Nicetown, is egregious to the legislators, who are saying that this discriminatory practice is no longer acceptable.  Already targeted in the past, Nicetown has substandard air quality, partially due to SEPTA’s largest diesel bus depot and Route 1 traffic, which passes overhead.  The community is surrounded by hills and suffers air inversions more frequently than its higher elevated neighbors.

The Senator conducted his own investigation into the matter, which included reaching out to the PA Department of Environmental Protection with regulatory questions relevant to the details of SEPTA’s power plant, before responding to persistent and growing objections from the Nicetown and Germantown communities, in regard to the polluting nature of SEPTA’s project. 

The six legislators are demanding equal environmental rights for their constituents, under PA’s constitutional law, which in this case, would clear out a common practice of manipulating the edges of regulations, so that certain people are kept relatively safe, and receiving services, while the less fortunate pay for those services with their health, due to their communities being targeted for toxic dumping.