Pa. DEP coming to Philadelphia to listen; it could get an earful

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection officials are traveling to the city next week as part of the agency’s environmental justice listening tour.

And, this being Philly, we don’t expect folks will be shy at the session scheduled for 4-6 p.m. Thursday, May 25 at Fairmount Water Works.

The tour is designed to give DEP officials an idea what concerns are most pressing in a community. The DEP considers an ‘environmental justice community’ to have a 20 percent poverty rate and 30 percent minority population.  About 25 percent of Philadelphians live in poverty and about 55 percent are considered minorities, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The DEP wants to know if residents feel engaged or marginalized, and if they feel they have a voice in the city’s decision making.  DEP officials also want to know how they can become more engaged.

The DEP says that, historically, though minorities and the poor have borne a disproportionate share of environmental issues, they have been disenfranchised from decision making.

Philadelphia has its share of problems that spill into the neighborhoods, from lead paint in older homes to high rates of asthma, through to the number of smoggy days.

“We’d like this tour to be the beginning of a dialogue that helps shape how the DEP moves forward with environmental justice issues statewide,” said Carl Jones, director of the DEP’s environmental justice office. “DEP recognizes that getting feedback on our work is critical to effectively engaging Pennsylvanians, and with this tour we’re starting that dialogue.”


  • WHAT: Philadelphia Environmental Justice Listening Session
  • WHEN: Thursday May 25, 2017 4:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.
  • WHERE:  Fairmount Water Works 640 Water Works Drive Philadelphia, PA 19130