Pittsburgh, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that the Beaver County Environmental Mitigation Community Fund steering committee has finalized a protocol implementation plan, which establishes the advisory board’s role in executing projects.
The implementation plan outlines how the advisory board is to review and recommend funding for projects, criteria for eligible applicants, the application timeline, project requirements, and selection criteria and process. The plan also names The Pittsburgh Foundation as the trustee to manage and disburse the funds. The advisory board has opened the call for applicants and begun public engagement to encourage applications.
“The $5 million Environmental Mitigation Community Fund is one of the largest funds of its kind in Pennsylvania history and a first of its kind for DEP. That is why we were very intentional and deliberative as we outlined the process forward,” said DEP Special Deputy Secretary for the Office of Environmental Justice, Fernando Treviño. “This has been a community-focused and community-driven process to ensure that money resulting from DEP’s enforcement of environmental violations at the Shell cracker plant is put back into the community to help mitigate harm.”
The $5 million Environmental Mitigation Community Fund was created as part of the consent order and agreement (COA) signed between DEP and Shell Chemicals Appalachia LLC. Under the agreement, Shell formally acknowledged that the company exceeded total emission limitations for air contaminants, agreed to make repairs to reduce future exceedances, and agreed to pay nearly $10 million to DEP and the local community – including $5 million for environmental projects to benefit the local communities.
The Beaver County Environmental Mitigation Community Fund advisory board is made up of representatives of organizations serving Beaver County and those spearheading environmental justice within DEP that recommend community project applications for selection and award funding. Information on the community fund, permitting, and compliance information is available on DEP’s community information webpage for the facility: dep.pa.gov/Shell.
“Leaders from Beaver County have been involved in leading both the steering committee and the advisory board,” said Daniel Rossi-Keen, advisory board member of the Beaver County Environmental Mitigation Community Fund and Executive Director of RiverWise. “We are hopeful that these funds will enable both grassroots and more established organizations to deepen their agency in the future of the region, improving the lives, health, and environment for Beaver County residents.”
The application period for community projects to benefit the environment, health, and/or quality of life for communities in Beaver County will run from January 4, 2024 through February 29, 2024. A link to the application and more information can be found on DEP's community information webpage for the fund. There is no minimum or maximum funding level, so applicants may apply for funding at an amount appropriate for their project. If funds are still available, there may be more application periods opened and projects funded. At least one project selected for funding should provide for regular, independent air quality testing in the vicinity of the facility. Also, at least one selected project should focus on meaningful community education and engagement that fosters civic participation. Projects that meet this criteria are encouraged. Eligible organizations must be classified as a 501(c)(3) or partner with one and be based in Beaver County or partner with a Beaver County-based organization.
Through Febuary, 2024, the advisory board will host two in-person public meetings, one virtual public meeting, two virtual question and answer sessions, and a weekly virtual office hours. The virtual office hours will provide guidance and answer questions for prospective applicants. Dates, times, locations or log-in details will be posted on DEP’s community information webpage for the fund.
For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, please visit the website or follow DEP on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.