Category Archives: Environment

Documentary on PA Environmental Rights Amendment features the Delaware Riverkeeper

News from Delaware Riverkeeper Network, a member of the Chester County Environment Alliance:

Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, was featured on the State Impact Pennsylvania documentary “Generations Yet To Come: The story of environmental rights in Pennsylvania,” which focuses on Article 1 Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, known as Pennsylvania’s Green Amendment. Van Rossum and her team were instrumental in the 2013 legal victory Robinson Township v Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that breathed life back into the amendment.

Van Rossum was the featured speaker at the Sept. 8, 2018, Chester County March for Climate Justice and Environment.

Read more in “DRN & 7 Towns Challenge & Defeat Act 13.” Excerpt:

…”The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its decision on December 19, 2013. In that decision the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that Act 13 violates the Pennsylvania Constitution on the grounds that it violates the Environmental Rights Amendment. In doing so, the Court held that the right to pure water, clean air and a healthy environment are fundamental rights that must be given high-priority consideration and protection by every level of Pennsylvania’s government. The Court’s decision also struck down the shale gas industry’s effort to force every municipality in the state to allow gas drilling and related industrial operations in every zoning district. The Court’s decision upheld the ability of local governments to protect their local communities and natural resources through zoning….”

Watch the 26-minute documentary here, including also Franklin Kury [photo Kury speaking in the video], who as a young legislator secured passage of the state’s 1971 “Green Amendment,” which reads:

“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”

But as the documentary brings out, municipalities still need to zone properly to keep threats to residents’ welfare out of residential districts. And some interviewees still uphold the industry point of view that the courts should defer to the legislature, which of course is heavily influenced by industry donations, and that “property rights” confer a right to pollute and degrade the environment. Constant vigilance is still needed!

Compare to pipeline operators’ current attempts to place pipelines wherever suits them?

Add Your Name: Support a Green New Deal!

Sierra Club petition

A Green New Deal would put people to work in good union jobs, while enabling communities to invest in projects like removing lead from drinking water, retrofitting buildings to make them more efficient, and expanding our clean energy grid. These investments can play a critical role in fighting climate change and reducing racial and economic inequity by prioritizing benefits for working class families, communities of color, immigrants, and others who’ve borne the brunt of the fossil fuel economy.

Many states and cities already have a head start in adopting Green New Deal policies, creating momentum for national action! …

read more and sign petition: Sierra Club

The environmental impacts of Florence we feared

Half a million customers without power. Hundreds of roads washed out. At least thirty-one people killed, including a three-month-old infant. Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones, and all those whose lives are forever changed by this devastating storm.

Now we’re starting to hear news of long-term environmental impacts. There are news reports of coal ash releases and flooding caused by Florence floodwaters in Wilmington and Goldsboro, NC, as well as the threat of overflowing waste pits from hog farms.

The worst isn’t over.

With the threat of waters from coal and hog waste pits flooding downstream towards the ocean, and at least one tornado that spun off of the storm, we’re talking about an impacted area that’s 250 miles from end to end. The health and safety of millions of people are at risk.

They need our help. Local organizations like North Carolina Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, ACT Against Coal Ash Coalition and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC are working on the ground to assist people impacted by this “storm of a lifetime” and address longer-term environmental damage. Your emergency gift of $5 or whatever you can give will go a long way as this punishing storm continues to churn across the Carolinas.

Can you make an emergency gift to the Sierra Club’s Hurricane Florence recovery efforts now? 100% of the funds you donate will go directly to the nonprofits serving the communities affected most by this devastating storm.

While the extent of the environmental destruction wrought by Florence may not be known for some time, we do know that 2,000 cubic yards of coal ash — known to be toxic — was spilled at Duke Energy in Wilmington, compounding what is already a public health crisis.

Just two years ago, Hurricane Matthew caused a massive coal ash breach and submerged dozens of hog and chicken facilities, compromising pits containing millions of gallons of hog manure. We now know what low-income communities in rural areas face — particularly when they don’t know whether their soil and water are safe.

Activists on the ground are already working on a long-term recovery and prevention plan to guard against future weather events — even as emergency and nonprofit workers continue to rescue, feed, house and help our neighbors still suffering in the storm.

Please, donate what you can to the locally-led organizations that will be doing the cleanup AND taking care of our neighbors in the weeks and months to come.

Our thoughts go out to the 20,000 of our neighbors taking refuge in shelters, waiting to see if they have anything to go home to, as well as those still waiting for the worst.

And our thanks go to friends like you for helping make sure our partners on the ground have what they need to save lives and begin to repair the communities hit hardest by this unforgiving storm. We’re grateful for your support at times like this.


Molly Diggins
Director, North Carolina Chapter
Sierra Club

Let’s take a moment to dwell in The Peace Of Wild Things

The Peace Of Wild Things – Poem by Wendell Berry

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Rally for Climate Justice and Environment, West Chester, 9/8/18

Thanks to all the eloquent speakers pictured here:

Left to right: Jordan Norley (plus daughter Asha), Silvia Martínez Uribe, Rev. Kyle Boyer, Sheila Burke, Maya vanRossum (front), Sgt. Gerald Brown, George Alexander, Saira Salyani (not pictured: Dianne Herrin, Vince Moro).

Thanks to Ed Rodgers for filming the whole event and posting it on Facebook at Delaware Riverkeeper Network (under Posts; go to 9/8/18).

See also “175 rally to support climate, jobs and justice” by Bill Rettew in the Daily Local News, beginning:

WEST CHESTER—Voices and protest signs were raised at the historic courthouse during a rally and march to support the environment, Saturday afternoon.

Rain threatened, but none fell, during a 70-minute rally attended by about 175 environmental activists.

The event was one of about 250 similar marches and rallies nationwide recognizing a national day of action and the “Rise of Climate, Jobs and Justice.” The central rally was held in San Francisco where the Global Climate Action Summit starts on Sept. 12.

Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum told the lively audience from the courthouse steps that the public should demand justice for the environment. She said that corporations and elected officials are committing violence against the environment.

“There are real victims gathered here because of injustice,” van Rossum said. “Environmental violence takes many forms….”

Chester County March for Climate Justice and Environment – Sept 8, 2018

FYI: the rain is supposed to stop at 10:45 a.m. so we’ll definitely go ahead at 2 p.m. and let’s not worry about the weather! (Just bring a jacket in case of a casual shower.)

Please join us for the Chester County March for Climate Justice and Environment on Sept 8, 2018, rallying at 2 p.m. at the Chester County Court House in West Chester, marching a few blocks at 3 p.m., and reconvening at Everhart Park.

Chester County March for Climate Justice and Environment – outline

Saturday, September 8, 2:00 – 4:15pm

2 p.m. rally at the Historic Chester County Court House, 2 N. High Street, West Chester, PA 19380

Speakers in order:

Our moderator is Jordan Norley, Chairman of the Chester County Mayors Association, past West Chester mayor and past president of Borough Council. Chant master is Sheila Burke, Don’t Spray Me! Activist.

Dianne Herrin will welcome us to the Borough as mayor of West Chester (focus: what municipalities can do)

Rev. Kyle J. Boyer, local minister and educator (faith and environment)

Vince Moro, Neighbors for Crebilly (organizing for open space)

Silvia Martínez Uribe, former automotive, chemical and pharmaceutical industry employee, now educator and Reiki practitioner (focus: lack of concern about people’s health by big businesses)

George Alexander for Del-Chesco United (focus on pipelines)

Sgt Gerald Brown, Vietnam veteran and poet (focus: air quality and minority communities)

Saira Salyani, activist, senior in Great Valley High School (focus: today’s youth getting informed, taking action and demanding results from elected officials)

Featured speaker: Maya K. van Rossum, leader of Delaware Riverkeeper Network since 1994, winner of a watershed 2013 legal victory that affirmed the constitutional right of Pennsylvanians to a clean and healthy environment, and author of “The Green Amendment” (focus on citizen empowerment, PA Constitution, Green Amendment)

3 p.m. march from the Court House led by Jordan Norley, with banners and signs, to Everhart Park W. Union St between S. Brandywine and S. Bradford), where there will be tables, displays, refreshments by West Chester Co-op, children’s activities, yoga (bring a towel) with Local Yoga Café of 216 E. Market St. West Chester, and more.

Stand with us! Park as needed in the Borough parking garage 1/2 block south on S. High St. Rain date Sept. 9. This is one of thousands of Sept. 8 rallies that will be held in cities and towns around the world to demand that our leaders commit to building a fossil free world that works for all of us. Join all who care about climate and environment as we demand that local leaders walk the talk on environment action.

Please help us by RSVPing here.

This non-political event is co-sponsored by these member groups of the Chester County Environment Alliance:

Citizens Climate Lobby – Chester County group
Del-Chesco United for Community Safety
Don’t Spray Me!
East Goshen Safety and Environmental Advocates (EGSEA)
Faith Alliance for Pipeline Safety.
Neighbors for Crebilly
Ready for 100 Chester County
Sierra Club of Chester County
Sierra Club Youth Corps
Uwchlan Safety Coalition
West Chester Co-operative

Also co-sponsoring: NextGen America. Other groups at Everhart Park: PennFuture, West Goshen Sustainability Task Force.

This is one of thousands of rallies around the world (logo below) demanding that local leaders commit to building a fossil free world that works for all of us. Rain date Sept. 9.

Rise for Climate