DEP Joins in the City’s Scare Tactics about Ordinance Legality

At the city’s request, the Department of Environmental Protection has put together a letter dated today (6/19), the day of the city council meeting where city council gets to vote on the ordinance.  The letter was actually released earlier, as the city had it on 6/18, just in time to email to local reporters so they could write articles on this day of the vote, claiming that the ordinance is illegal.  The ordinance is NOT preempted by state law, as DEP claims.  Mike Ewall, Esq. of Energy Justice Network, author of the Allentown Clean Air Ordinancedebunks the DEP’s letter here.

See today’s news articles on this herehere, and here.

Clean Air Ordinance will be on the November ballot…

…if Allentown City Council doesn’t vote for it first.

The Home Rule Charter allows Council 60 days to pass the ordinance themselves.  Today – May 21st – is Day 29; they have until June 21st.  The Ordinance was introduced at the May 15th Council meeting, and will be discussed (and open to public comments) at a Committee of the Whole meeting.  Stay tuned for that date!

City Clerk says that Clean Air Ordinance got enough signatures!

So simple, yet so satisfying:

“The City Clerk’s Office has reviewed your petitions and found them to be sufficient.”

Meaning that more than 2,000 of the 3,500 signatures that we collected turned out to be from registered Allentown voters. *whew*

This means that City Council has 60 days to adopt the Clean Air Ordinance themselves. If they vote against it or fail to consider it for 60 days, the Ordinance can appear on the ballot in November and the citizens of Allentown can adopt it.

To everyone who petitioned: Great job! You’re making democracy possible.

Special thanks to Mike Hanlon, Tawanna Whitehead, and everyone who helped the City Clerk’s office in the painstaking task of verifying the signers.

Final 10-day Clean Air signature sprint starts TOMORROW!

URGENT: The final 10-day Clean Air signature sprint starts TOMORROW! The city just confirmed that 1,376 of the 2,100 signatures we turned in are valid.

We need to collect 1,000 more to securely have 2,000 good signatures. That’s 100 signatures a day from Saturday 4/6 to Monday 4/15.

We have people committing to 50 or 100 signatures, with commitments totaling 350 signatures so far. Can you commit to 50? 20? 100? 100 is just ten a day… 🙂

More Than 2,000 Signatures Have Been Submitted for Allentown Clean Air Ordinance Ballot Initiative


More Than 2,000 Signatures Have Been Submitted for Allentown Clean Air Ordinance Ballot Initiative

Allentown Pa. – On March 16th, Allentown residents delivered over 2,000 signatures successfully gathered by the filing deadline for a ballot initiative in an effort to place their drafted clean air ordinance on the Allentown ballot in November.

The Allentown Clean Air Ordinance, if passed by the voters in November, would require around the clock monitoring of emissions from new waste burning facilities, while capping the kinds of emissions that can cause cancer, asthma, and COPD. Under Pennsylvania’s Air Pollution Control Act, towns and municipalities are allowed to pass stricter air pollution laws than state regulations.

Allentown Residents for Clean Air and the petition drive were organized by Allentown residents with the help of Energy Justice Network in response to Mayor Ed Pawlowski’s trash and sewage sludge incinerator proposal. The facility has been contracted by the Mayor and City Council for 35 years, but is still embroiled in a legal dispute with the state over their permit, and may not yet have adequate funding to move forward. If built, Delta Thermo Energy, a New Jersey company, would burn 100 tons a day of city trash and 50 tons a day of sewage sludge. The incinerator would be Delta Thermo’s first and would be classified as an experimental facility due to a novel combination of three technologies that would allow the operator to skirt state regulations.

In addition, the 35-year contract would create a disincentive for the city to prioritize waste reduction efforts such as recycling and composting that would preclude the need for both landfill expansion and incineration. Allentown Residents’ goal is to pass strict monitoring requirements and an emissions cap on pollutants like carbon monoxide, acid gases, volatile organic compounds, toxic metals, and dioxins such that Delta Thermo and investors would no longer be attracted to Allentown.

“It’s just common sense to expect an experimental waste-burning operation to use modern equipment that would tell us what is really coming out of their smokestack, and for their emissions to be as clean as they claim,” said Mike Ewall of Energy Justice Network. “However, this company is fighting the state, not wanting to comply with the most minimal requirements set in their permit, and wants even lower standards. I have no doubt that if we pass a reasonable clean air law, irresponsible companies like Delta Thermo will chose not to build their polluting experiment in the city.”

“We’ve been talking to many parents of kids with asthma, and others who suffer from the air pollution we already have. Burning 150 tons of waste each day in the heart of the city can only make things worse,” said Rich Fegley. “Alternatives like recycling and composting create 10 times more jobs than burning or burying waste. We can do better. In fact, San Francisco just reached 80% diversion from landfills and incinerators – a direction Allentown should try, rather than pick the dirtiest and most expensive way to handle waste.”

If the city clerk verifies that the signatures are valid, the ballot initiative would be present on the November ballot, so that Allentown voters can vote on whether they city should adopt the Allentown Clean Air Ordinance.

Allentown Residents for Clean Air is a diverse grassroots community organization organized to stop the Delta Thermo Energy incinerator.

The Energy Justice Network is a Philadelphia-based national organization that supports communities threatened by polluting energy and waste technologies. Taking direction from a grassroots base and the Principles of Environmental Justice, EJN advocates a clean energy, zero-emission, zero-waste future for all. On their website, EJN proposes their own Energy Justice Platform.

Why we oppose incineration.


Incineration turns waste into toxic air pollution and toxic ash, which would be dumped in area landfills, making them even more toxic to groundwater than they usually are.

Incineration is the most expensive and polluting way to make energy or to dispose of waste. Real solutions like reuse, recycling and composting produce 10 times as many jobs as burning or burying waste. San Francisco just reached 80% diversion from landfills and incinerators through their zero waste program.

To learn about how toxic, dangerous, expensive and unnecessary incinerators are, see:

Incineration: Myths vs. Facts on “Waste-to-Energy”

Incineration and Incinerators-in-Disguise

Petitioner Orientation Meetings

Allentown is threatened by a toxic incinerator that would foul our region’s air with poisons from burned trash and sewage sludge.

WE NEED 2,000 SIGNATURES BY MARCH 15th to put a Clean Air ordinance (En Espanol) on the November ballot.

Please Join Us!

Petitioner Orientation Meetings
February 4th, 5th & 6th (Mon, Tues & Wed) from 6pm-7pm
Allentown Brew Works – FIVE (fifth floor)
812 W. Hamilton St, Allentown, PA 18101

Come to one of these meetings to get materials and orientation to help the petitioning effort.

Get Involved!

Can’t make it, but want to help?  Contact Us.

We also need petitioners to help with the following:

  • Tabling at the Allentown Brew Works at prime traffic times
    • 12pm-2pm Weekdays
    • 5pm-7pm Thursday & Fridays
    • Food and refreshments for those who can staff a table for an hour or two
  • Collecting signatures at community meetings, churches, neighborhood groups, etc.
  • Other good ideas for where to find lots of Allentown registered voters?

Let us know!

Petitioner’s Committee has filed a Proposed Clean Air Ordinance

PROPOSED City of Allentown Clean Air Ordinance



WHEREAS, the United States of America Clean Air Act, as amended, including Amendments of 1989, and the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act of January 9, 1960 (P.L. 2119), as amended, provide in part for the better protection of the health, general welfare and property of the people of the Commonwealth by the abatement, reduction and prevention of the pollution of the air by smokes, fumes, gases, odors, mists, vapors, and similar matter, or any combination thereof; and

WHEREAS, the Federal and Commonwealth Legislatures have granted the power to local municipalities to adopt more stringent air pollution standards than those provided within the cited Acts, as affirmed by the adoption of section 12 of Act 95 of 1992, 35 P.S.§4012; and

WHEREAS, local municipalities have thus been empowered with the right to enact ordinances in protecting and preserving the ambient air quality; and

WHEREAS, Allentown’s ambient air quality is a matter of vital concern to the residents of the City; and

WHEREAS, the City of Allentown is of the opinion that increased introduction of air contaminants within the City would have an adverse effect on the ambient air quality; and

WHEREAS, the City of Allentown has determined that the impact of increased air contaminants should be borne by those introducing the contaminants; and

Read the Entire Ordinance

Download the Proposed City of Allentown Clean Air Ordinance

Allentown Community Incinerator Discussion Meeting

RSVP on Facebook here: Toxic Trash/sludge Incinerator Threatens Allentown ~~Learn about this dangerous city plan andhow you can help save Allentown’s air and pocketbook.

Allentown Community Incinerator Discussion Meeting
Monday, Dec 17th, at 7:15pm
Fellowship Room of Saint James UCC Church
(37 South 15th Street, Allentown, PA)

Delta Thermo Energy Corp is planning to construct an incinerator at 112 W Union St in Allentown. This incinerator will burn garbage and sewage sludge in Center City Allentown, near the East End of the city.

The burning of garbage/sewage has been determined to release sulfur, mercury, lead, carbon dioxide, and dioxin. According to census data, the community surrounding the planned incinerator is 60-85% Latino and African-American (see map below). Delta Thermo intends to release these toxic chemicals into the air and water of one of the most racially diverse working class communities in the Lehigh Valley.

Delta Thermo says the incinerator is “clean technology,” but theirs is the first of its type in the world and has never been tested for pollution before: Delta Thermo Energy is using you and your loved ones as test subjects for their experiment with this “new” incinerator.

We need your help! Several Allentown residents are coming together for a presentation and discussion on what to do next. Mike Ewall from Energy Justice Network will share his expertise on the hazards of incineration and lead a Q&A and discussion on the issue.

PLEASE JOIN US… and spread the word!

RSVP on Facebook here:

For info on why incinerators are so dangerous

Location of Proposed Trash/Sludge Incinerator in Demographic Map