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International Delegates Take Toxic Tour During DNC

An international delegation of environmental activists is joining a Toxic Tour of Philadelphia’s largest refinery today. (Philadelphia Energy Solutions)
An international delegation of environmental activists is joining a Toxic Tour of Philadelphia’s largest refinery today. (Philadelphia Energy Solutions)
July 26, 2016

DENVER - As Colorado groups work to put measures onto the November ballot that would limit fossil fuel production, an international caravan is joining a Toxic Tour today at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions' refining complex. The It Takes Roots to Change the System caravan started out last week at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and arrived at the Democratic National Convention on Sunday.

Nay'Chelle Harris with the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance said the Democratic Party's commitment to combat climate change may be too little too late.

"The action they think is bold isn't bold enough," she said. "The people in Pennsylvania have been saying, 'No fracking,' and yet natural gas is being considered a bridge-energy source. And you can't make a bridge from dirty to clean with more dirty, that's just going along the same path."

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton pushed international leaders to adopt hydraulic fracturing practices and move from coal to natural gas for electricity. But Harris points out methane, the primary component of natural gas, is more than 80 times more potent than CO2 at trapping climate-changing heat. The Democratic Party platform includes limiting the rise of global temperatures through conservation and ramping up clean energy sources.

The platform also calls for securing environmental justice. Harris said while oil and gas lobbyists are busy at work inside the Wells Fargo Center, residents living in the shadow of Philadelphia Energy Solutions' refining complex on the Schuylkill River were not invited to the party.

"These solutions and the people they're consulting show that they're upholding this same system while giving lip service to what they feel is the hot topic of the day,"she said. "You can't say you're listening to the people and the people that are consistently shut out are the ones most vulnerable."

Harris said she hopes today's Toxic Tour will help pivot the attention of elected officials and regulators away from the DNC to communities of color across the country disproportionately impacted by climate pollution.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO