Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance
Philadelphia City Council apparently gets its wish, sort of, but loses all the jobs, the green bragging rights and the opportunity to be the next Houston.
A Chicago real estate company that builds warehouses on old industrial sites won the auction to redevelop Philadelphia Energy Solutions, likely marking the end to more than a century of refining on the 1,300-acre South Philadelphia site where over 1,100 skilled laborers once worked at peak production. Hilco Redevelopment Partners agreed to pay $240 million to acquire the site during a closed-door auction Friday, according to published reports from a U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing.
Be careful what you wish for in trading off a refinery for massive warehouses, if that’s what ultimately comes to South Philadelphia under this plan, which isn’t fully public yet. The same people who challenged the refinery most likely will soon be crying foul over the increased traffic, idling trucks and diesel fumes that foul the air.
What’s really happening here is that more than 1,000 hardworking men and women most likely will remain out of work for the foreseeable future, and the skills they gained and put to use over the years at an essential industrial operation will be lost.
Many continue to support and remain focused on ensuring the tradition of industrial operations continue at the facility. Workers who are still feeling the economic shocks of closure of PES now have to suffer the aftershock of a bankruptcy decision that makes the refinery option that much harder.
The loss of work affects those directly employed at the facility, plus more who are hired through contractors. The ancillary jobs of several thousand other workers employed by businesses that supply and service the refinery, or who cater to its employees, also will be imperiled.
Editor’s Note: Some readers will recall Kurt’s last post on this subject where he reported on Philadelphia City Council’s resolution asking bidders to submit “sustainable” bids for the property. You can read the whole politically correct resolution here, but note the following paragraphs:
WHEREAS, According to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the world only has until 2030 to cut greenhouse gas emissions 45% to avoid catastrophic climate change; and WHEREAS, The Fourth National Climate Assessment describes the air quality impacts of climate change. Climate change has already increased ozone levels across the country, especially in already polluted areas, and levels are expected to further increase as a result of changes in temperature, local weather, and air circulation; and
WHEREAS, On June 21, 2017, Mayor Kenney committed to sourcing 100 percent of municipal operations from renewable energy and to work toward a goal of 100 percent clean energy citywide; and WHEREAS, In July 2017, Mayor Kenney committed to reduce carbon emissions in Philadelphia by 80 percent by 2050 (based on 2006 levels); and…
WHEREAS, There is an enormous opportunity for sustainable businesses – those that have little to no negative environmental impacts – and other stakeholders to reimagine future uses of the refinery site that align with the City of Philadelphia’s sustainability and climate goals and continue the tradition of providing skilled, high-paying jobs; and
WHEREAS, A district plan for South Philadelphia issued by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission in May 2016 as part of Philadelphia’s comprehensive plan, known as Philadelphia 2035, envisioned the potential for public waterfront access and ecosystem services for the refinery site. To accomplish this, the plan recommended extending trails and bike connections that could ensure long-term access to the waterfront. Notably, the plan states, “[i]f certain industrial sites change ownership and use in the coming years, the Schuylkill and Delaware riverfronts could become important recreation, stormwater management, environmental remediation, and wildlife habitat sites, as well as important sites for increased tree cover;” and…
WHEREAS, City Council is hosting a public hearing on November 22, 2019 to listen to public testimony about future uses of the site; and WHEREAS, On November 14, 2019, Judge Gross approved bidding procedures, which include a requirement for PES to consult with the City of Philadelphia during an auction about the future use of the site and to disclose the names of the bidders to the city; now therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the Council of the City of Philadelphia hereby voices its strong interest in and enthusiastic support of proposals to purchase the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) refinery site that align with the City of Philadelphia’s goals to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the health, safety, and welfare of Philadelphia residents.
FURTHER RESOLVED, That City Council invites sustainable businesses or other stakeholders that may be interested in purchasing the land to use for purposes that align with the city’s sustainability goals to consider submitting a proposal by the November 22, 2019 deadline.
FURTHER RESOLVED, That City Council urges Mayor Kenney to use the requirement approved by the bankruptcy judge that PES consult with the City of Philadelphia about the future use of the site to ensure that the future land use aligns with the City of Philadelphia’s goals to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the health, safety, and welfare of Philadelphia residents.
So, now it looks as if they’ll get a warehouse that will produce almost no jobs, but lots of idling diesel trucks and truck traffic. But, then again, recreation, stormwater management, environmental remediation, and wildlife habitat sites weren’t going to do much for jobs either. Philadelphia City Council’s green virtue signaling, in other words, didn’t do anything for anyone other than the preening City Council members.