Southport Decision Will Affect Number of Port Jobs Created

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The Pennsylvania Regional Port Authority is about to choose from six proposals to develop the Southport Marine Terminal. This will decide the outcome of the largest Philadelphia port development in decades.

An unusual coalition of labor and environmentalists has formed around the proposed development of Southport, brought together by the fear that good jobs and public health might be sacrificed in favor of energy-corporation proposals.

Local 1291 of the International Longshoreman’s Association and Green Justice Philly, a coalition of 25 environmental groups, is working together to make sure the city’s working population is aware of the effects of the choice being made.

The final decision could mean upwards of 3,700 jobs will be created – or as few as 590, according to Gov. Tom Wolf, depending on which of six proposals are under consideration.

In 2015, the City of Philadelphia published an economic report on Southport that considered the anticipated uses for the marine terminal. The analysis found “a container terminal is by far the most job‐intensive use of Southport’s acreage.”

Specifically, a full investment in container shipping will create 8,100 direct jobs. In comparison, a partial investment in fossil-fuel infrastructure would create an estimated 120 jobs and a partial investment in an auto facility would create an estimated 675 jobs.
The PRPA was created with the mandate to bring good jobs into the port. Wolf has all but promised there will be a container terminal. Mayor Jim Kenney said he is in favor of it. And yet, the partnership of the union group and Green Justice Philly fear the decision may go to one of the energy proposals.

They charge if the PRPA chooses oil and gas infrastructure, it will add to the air pollution in Philadelphia. They claim one in four children have asthma and the oil industry is the main source of toxins in the air.

The Board of the PRPA is scheduled to make its decision this fall.

Since the Governor appoints a majority of its members, the coalition is working to make sure he honors his promise to develop a container terminal at Southport.

According to Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, who is on the faculty of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, and on the Steering Committee of Green Justice Philly, “The longshoremen and the environmentalists are united in their effort to work for good jobs and good public health.”

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