In response to political pressure from Pennsylvania legislators to increase its use of natural gas, SEPTA has proposed building a gas-fired power plant that would release harmful pollution in Nicetown, an already overburdened community of color. Philadelphia’s Air Management Services (AMS), a division of the Health Department, has the power and obligation to protect their right to clean air by delaying a permit until a full local air quality study with actual measurements and its health impact is completed with community engagement.

The State Supreme Court recently affirmed that the Pennsylvania Constitution requires all levels of government must protect the people’s right to clean air and has an ‘affirmative obligation’ to protect our public natural resources. The City, AMS and SEPTA should resist political pressures and produce an alternative choice that neither jeopardizes the local environment nor endangers public health.

Walter Tsou, MD, MPH
Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility

Letter to the Editor, published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on October 18, 2017.