State reps discuss environmental issues in Philadelphia

State reps discuss environmental issues in Philadelphia

Author: Marco Cerino/Friday, January 11, 2019/Categories: Philadelphia

Three of Philadelphia’s new state representatives met with voters in Olde Kensington on Thursday night to promote their upcoming bills that focus on tackling environmental causes.

Representatives Joe Hohenstein, Mary Isaacson and Malcolm Kenyatta shook hands and took questions from their constituents at Original 13 Ciderworks, a local brewpub in Kenyatta’s 181st district. The evening was hosted by PA Conservation Voters, PennEnvironment and the Sierra Club.

Topics ranged from fracking to public transit, social justice to political coalitions. Isaacson announced she is introducing a bill to mandate testing children for lead poisoning starting before age 2.

“Children should be able to not have to find out, only afterwards, after they’re damaged, that they have high lead levels,” she said. “Parents should be able to protect their children, and to be able to get them treatment and solutions to what’s causing these high blood levels when they’re still young and not damaged.”

She also announced that she will be hosting a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on January 22 at the National Constitution Center on the bill.

Kenyatta discussed the correlation between environmental regulations and social justice. Too long has his district in North Philadelphia been the target of industrial polluters and he says that’s adversely affected quality of life, particularly in poor and working class communities .

“I was just talking to someone today about waste sites that you don’t want in your neighborhood but that you weren’t in the conversation about where that was gonna be located,” he said.

He called for more funding for the Department of Environmental Protection and decried the efforts of the Trump Administration to dismantle existing regulations in favor of industrial interests.

Hohenstein, who represents the 177th along the Delaware riverfront, wants to see more parks and open space in his district. While he opposes expanding fracking and pipelines, he acknowledges there’s a “transitional phase” where carbon-based fuels are still in usage. He does want to see less usage of these fuels, especially coal.

The meeting reinforces the Philadelphia delegation’s commitment to environmental issues. Rep. Chris Rabb (D-Philadelphia) announced Friday he will reintroduce a bill to make the commonwealth run on 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. Joining him as co-sponsors are Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia) and Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks).

Alex Lola is a Climate Defense Organizer for PennEnvironment. He sees events like this as vital to engaging citizens.

“We’re providing that opportunity to build affinity with your elected officials, to get to know them, to remind ourselves that they work for us,” he said. “We have this opportunity to learn what their priorities are, to speak to them about what their constituents care about.”

Josh McNeil, executive director for Conservation Voters of PA, served as the evening’s moderator. The event is one in a series being held across the state for interested voters to meet their local officials and discuss these topics. He concluded the questions and answer period with suggesting that the best way to protect the environment is to keep democracy thriving and empower citizens.

“We need powerful legislators who are committed, both to representing their constituents and representing the city as a whole,” he said. “This event is one step.”

Marco Cerino a staff writer for The PLS Reporter based in Philadelphia. Have a question, comment or tip? Email him at marco@mypls.com.

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