Thousands March in Center City Against Fossil Fuels

A man holds a FraCK NO! sign while walking on Market Street during an environmental protest

Photo | Dan McQuade

Thousands marched from City Hall to Independence Mall today to call for a “clean energy revolution” — protesting fossil fuel extraction methods like fracking, pipeline projects like Mariner East and the use of nuclear power. It was the first major protest of Democratic National Convention week in Philadelphia.

“We got, what, like 10,000 people on the streets of Philadelphia on a 100-degree day,” said David Braun, a longtime anti-fracking activist who served as an emcee once the march reached Independence Mall. “To stand up for a clean and just renewable energy future. To take us away from fossil fuels. We did it in the heart of where fracking is happening.”

There were no police incidents during the march; one girl was separated from her parents but they were reunited not long after organizers announced it from the stage at Independence Mall. Before the march, organizers Food & Water Watch held a press conference at City Hall. Read more »

Drexel Study: Why Philly Should Use Rainwater to Flush Toilets

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Purified water is wasted in toilet bowls, but flushing is the single largest source of water consumption in the U.S.

Some researchers at Drexel University have a better idea, one that would work particularly well in Philadelphia: use rainwater instead.

Franco Montalto and other Drexel researchers took a look at rainfall levels in big U.S. cities, and found that Philly is one of just four cities nationwide that gets enough rain to eliminate the need for tap water in the toilet. How? By using large storage bins to collect rainfall from rooftops then diverting that water to the bathroom whenever the need arises. Read more »

Philly As Energy Hub? Not So Fast Says New Environmental Group

The Green Justice Philly rally in Center City on Wednesday.

The Green Justice Philly rally in Center City on Wednesday.

While many are arguing that Philadelphia can transform into an energy hub that takes advantage of cheap gas from the Marcellus Shale, a new environmental group has emerged to fight the plan.

Called Green Justice Philly, the organization launched Wednesday with a rally in Center City calling for green energy initiatives and cautioning city leaders about environmental consequences. It’s a coalition of more than 20 different organizations including the Clean Air CouncilDelaware Riverkeeper Network and the Food & Water Watch. Read more »

You Didn’t Imagine It: The Air Was Cleaner During the Pope’s Visit

Cyclists took to the streets during the “Pope Ride” on September 26th. | Photo by Jesse Delaney

Cyclists took to the streets during the “Pope Ride” on September 26th. | Photo by Jesse Delaney

Remember that time that Pope Francis came to Philadelphia for a weekend, and people took back the streets from cars, regularly broke out into song, and were a little nicer to each other? Jesus, what they say about millennials having early-onset nostalgia must be true, because it’s been two weeks since the pope was here and I’m already pining for him to come back.

Anyway, some residents said that yet another upside of the weekend was that the air felt a little fresher. But was it actually cleaner? The papal visit certainly presented a unique opportunity to conduct an experiment to see how quickly — and to what extent — the air quality changes when you take cars off the streets. For the mega-event, officials closed down several major roads and highways in Philadelphia, and barred incoming traffic from parts of Center City.

The city’s Department of Public Health regularly measures the amount of pollutants in the air at various sites in Philadelphia. Compared to similar weekends, the health department’s Alison Riley told us that there were indeed lower levels of some pollutants during the pope’s visit, particularly on that Saturday. Read more »

How the Big Blue Bin Has Made Recycling Awfully Expensive

recycling sorting facility

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A recent story in the Washington Post headlined “American Recycling Is Stalling” sent a shockwave through environmentalist circles. America’s recycling business, once lucrative for both cities and private employers, is now devolving into a “money-sucking enterprise,” the story concluded. And that’s despite years of growth in curbside recycling. One of the big culprits? Ironically, it’s blue bin recycling,  according to the Post:

Trying to encourage conservation, progressive lawmakers and environmentalists have made matters worse. By pushing to increase recycling rates with bigger and bigger bins — while demanding almost no sorting by consumers — the recycling stream has become increasingly polluted and less valuable, imperiling the economics of the whole system.

Before we go further, what exactly are the “economics of the whole system”? As ubiquitous as recycling has become, the business model is rather opaque. How does the city make money from empty soda cans on the curb? Read more »

How Philly is Trying to Fix Water Main-ia

Credit: Shutterstock.com

Credit: Shutterstock.com

Editor’s Note: Citified has retracted this story, which was based on a flawed assumption about water management infrastructure. Thanks to commenters William H Ross III and tsarstruck for pointing out the error.

Sign of the Apocalypse? Flies Invade Lancaster County

It’s like something out of a movie: twice in the past five days, swarms of mayflies have shut down the Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County. On Saturday night, the bridge closure came after the low visibility from thousands and thousands of flies caused three motorcycle accidents (the injuries were reportedly minor).

Ryan Robinson of Lancaster Online reports today of “a surreal scene” that sounds like an entomological version of the frog scene from Magnolia. Fire Chief Chad Livelsberger told Robinson, “It was like a blizzard in June, but instead of snow, it was mayflies.” There was an inch-think slick of dead flies on the bridge, making cars skid and wheels spin as though the roadway were covered with ice. But the flies weren’t all dead, apparently, since they swarmed again on Sunday night, prompting a second shutdown of the same bridge.

Read more »

Fish Cancer Confirmed for First Time in Pennsylvania River

Smallmouth bass with confirmed malignant tumor. Caught by angler in Susquehanna River near Duncannon, Dauphin County, on Nov. 3, 2014. Photo credit: John Arway.

Smallmouth bass with confirmed malignant tumor. Caught by angler in Susquehanna River near Duncannon, Dauphin County, on Nov. 3, 2014. Photo credit: John Arway.

The grotesque image seen here is not a movie still from some awful Sharknado spinoff. It is a photograph of a smallmouth bass caught by a fisherman in the Susquehanna River, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has confirmed that the growth on the fish is a cancerous tumor. It’s the first time a smallmouth bass has been documented with a cancerous tumor in the state. It’s also the first documented instance of fish cancer among all species in the Susquehanna River. Read more »

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