It’s been a busy week and I don’t have all the elements I need for the newsletter subject I planned for this edition. So it’s time for a quick look around local climate action stories this week.
Earlier this year I spoke to Culitivando, a community group in Commerce City, CO that is doing their own air pollution monitoring after years of complaints about the nearby Suncor oil refinery. Last week, the refinery had a sulfur dioxide release that exceeded the EPA’s dangerous standard — but not for the length of time required to official violate pollution standards.
Cultivando released a report from Boulder atmospheric scientist Detlev Helmig in March warning of exactly what happened Monday: Short-term emissions from Suncor that endanger health but do not officially break EPA limits.
…“Pollution levels go up and down, up and down very dynamically all the time,” he said at a Cultivando community briefing. “If you happen to go out there at a certain time when levels are low, it may look not too concerning and pretty clean. But you come back just half an hour later and conditions might have changed very dramatically.”
The release did end up with an official warning by the state health department, but not until hours after the release. In a statement to the Colorado Sun, the health department noted their the delay was in part because Cultivando’s monitors had recently undergone maintenance and in part to translate the warning into Spanish.
Montana is an odd state when it comes to climate policy, but the local paper in Missoula, MT reports on a rebate program that involves the city, county and state designed to ease the cost of switching buildings to electricity.
The program — which was unanimously supported by Missoula City council members — has an initial period of two years. After that, Glenn said, the city and county would look for federal funding to keep the program going.
I imagine they will be looking pretty hard at the opportunities for heat pumps in the IRA.
This story from the Guardian gets at a question I had half-formed in my head after reading the many, many stories about electrician shortages slowing the speed of climate work.
Experts point to a lack of investment in technical schools and a culture that emphasizes four-year college degrees as the main path to a successful career as a few reasons there aren’t enough electricians to meet demand. “We don’t do a good job marketing ourselves as an industry in general, but particularly with women,” said Allie Perez, a plumber and founder of Texas Women in the Trades.
Residents of Philadelphia are answering just this question as the company that owns a former refinery site is beginning work on turning it into something entirely different. Local public radio WHYY reports:
The company redeveloping the site, Hilco Redevelopment Partners, plans to turn it into a warehousing and logistics hub and life sciences campus called The Bellwether District.
Activists with Philly Thrive have pushed for fossil fuel-free development at the site, but current plans for the redevelopment — including truck-intensive warehousing — could clash with this vision.
The community and the company recently met at a multi-day workshop to discuss the future of the site. They’ll be a community-benefits agreement negotiation that nearby residents will use to push the company further on its energy commitments.