MEDIA CONTACT: Jamar Thrasher, 717-319-1758, firstname.lastname@example.org, RA-EPNews@pa.gov
Pittsburgh, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the members of a steering committee who will be tasked with developing a protocol to allocate $5 million in funding for community projects in Beaver County. The Shapiro Administration secured the funding as part of its settlement of air quality violations by Shell Chemical Appalachia, LLC during the commissioning of its cracker plant in Potter Township.
The Environmental Mitigation Fund steering committee will take public feedback into account as they develop the allocation protocol and will host an open meeting for the public on Thursday, July 13, 2023, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the Community College of Beaver County's Learning Resources Center (Room 9103) at 1 Campus Drive, Monaca, PA 15061. Community organizations with representation on the steering committee, RiverWise and Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community (BCMAC), will livestream the meeting on each organization's Facebook pages to maximize community participation and access. The committee and staff from DEP's Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) will be on hand to provide information and answer questions about the fund.
The $5 million Environmental Mitigation Community Fund is one of the largest funds in Pennsylvania history and is a direct result of Governor Shapiro taking action to hold Shell accountable and deliver real results for Western Pennsylvania. This multi-million dollar payment secured by the Shapiro Administration is going to provide real help for affected Pennsylvania communities.
"We are committed to working closely with Beaver County residents to ensure that this historic $5 million is an investment in the community," said DEP Secretary Rich Negrin. "Under Governor Shapiro's leadership, the Department of Environmental Protection will continue to hold Shell accountable and protect Pennsylvanians' constitutional right to clean air and water. Thanks to the Environmental Mitigation Community Fund, the people of Western Pennsylvania will receive $5 million for projects to benefit the environment, health, and quality of life in their community – and we will ensure they have a real voice in determining how that funding is spent."
In accordance with the May 24, 2023 consent order and agreement, OEJ convened a steering committee to develop the process to allocate funds for community projects. The protocol will also outline the process for seeking, evaluating, and supporting projects and the creation of a financial entity to hold the funds. The 17-member steering committee is comprised of representatives from organizations serving Beaver County and those spearheading environmental justice within DEP.
Terrie Baumgardner, Clean Air Council, BMAC
Kolbe Cole, TRAILS Ministries
Veronica Coptis, Taproot Earth
Roger Davis, Community College of Beaver County
Lisa DePaoli, Center for Coalfield Justice DEP Environmental Justice Advisory Board (EJAB)
Cindy Gormley, Aliquippa Economic Development Corporation
Mary Lou Harju, United Way of Beaver County
Heather Hulton VanTassel, Three Rivers Waterkeeper
Cheryl King, Franklin Center of Beaver County
Matt Mehalik, Breathe Project
Norm Mitry, Heritage Valley Health System
Pastor Caleb Mussleman, The SOMA Gathering
anaïs peterson, Earthworks
Daniel Rossi-Keen, RiverWise
Tom Torres, DEP EJAB, Ohio River Valley Institute
Fernando Treviño, DEP, Special Deputy Secretary, Office of Environmental Justice
Seth Whitted, Whitted Media/The Genesis Collective
"We are employing community-based decision making, environmental justice principles, and transparency to maximize the positive impact of this fund," added DEP's Special Deputy Secretary for OEJ, Fernando Treviño. "What makes this Environmental Mitigation Community Fund unique is the community involvement and engagement through every step of the process."
A separate, yet-to-be-formed, committee will make funding decisions. Ultimately, DEP will invite applications for projects to benefit the environment, health, and quality of life of the community near the facility for funding.
Information on the community fund, permitting, and compliance information is available on DEP's community information webpage for the facility: https://www.dep.pa.gov/About/Regional/SouthwestRegion/Community%20Information/Shell-Petrochemical-Complex/Pages/default.aspx.
For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, please visit the website or follow DEP on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. For more information on DEP's Office of Environmental Justice, please visit its webpage and subscribe to its newsletter.
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