East Falls resident Karen Melton alerts us to a proposed SEPTA plant in neighboring Nicetown and the effects it might have on the area’s air quality.

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Many neighbors have yet to hear about a new project SEPTA is considering in neighboring Nicetown — a natural gas electric generation plant that would be located near Wayne Junction and the Midvale bus depot. Click here for interactive map.

SEPTA authorized funding to design the plant in October, but most local community groups say they haven’t heard about it until recently. The next phase will be for SEPTA to decide whether to move forward with construction — that decision is expected as early as late summer.

Our concern — air pollution from the plant will affect all surrounding neighborhoods, including East Falls. The immediate area around the plant, which includes three schools, is already subject to elevated air pollution with extremely high childhood asthma rates.

Air pollution contributes to many health risks such as asthma and other respiratory diseases as well as cardiovascular disease.

SEPTA cites several benefits from the project, including savings on the cost of electricity and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Opponents of the plant contend that natural gas prices are likely to increase over the approximately 20-year lifespan of the plant, while prices for renewable energy will continue to decline.

In essence, SEPTA will lock itself into costlier power rates and miss the opportunity to move to the next generation of renewable energies.

For nearby residents, they will miss the benefits of cleaner air quality. And while natural gas burns more cleanly than coal, studies show that the amount of methane that leaks during natural gas drilling and transportation makes natural gas as consequential a contributor to climate change as coal.

SEPTA has an opportunity to chart a path directly to 21st century energy technology.

We urge them to reconsider the power plant as currently planned.

How To Get Involved

Go to the 350Philadelphia website.

About Karen

Karen Melton is a member of 350Philly, a group dedicated to building a global grassroots climate movement. She’s lived in East Falls for 25 years and, since retiring in 2012, has been a full time environmental advocate.