MEDIA CONTACT: Jamar Thrasher, 717-319-1758, email@example.com, RA-EPNews@pa.gov
Pittsburgh, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that the Environmental Mitigation Community Fund steering committee has finalized the protocol to allocate $5 million in funding for community projects in Beaver County. The protocol establishes the basic outline of how the Environmental Mitigation Community Fund will be distributed and what entities are eligible to apply for funding.
The Shapiro Administration secured the $5 million, one of the largest funds in Pennsylvania history, as part of its settlement of air quality violations by Shell Chemical Appalachia, LLC (Shell) during the commissioning of the company's cracker plant in Potter Township.
Projects that provide environmental, health, or quality of life benefits in Beaver County may be eligible for funding. The protocol includes that at least one funded project should provide for regular, independent, testing of the air quality in the vicinity of the facility, and at least one funded project should focus on meaningful community education and engagement that fosters civic participation to design strategies seeking to improve the health and/or quality of life of the communities near to the facility.
"The Consent Order and Agreement includes a strong recommendation to fund a project that provides additional and independent air monitoring. We're encouraged by the community feedback we received supporting that and the steering committee incorporated it in the final protocol," said DEP Secretary Rich Negrin.
Organizations designated as a 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 or that partner with a 501(c)(3), including as a fiscal sponsor, located within Beaver County or partnering with a Beaver County organization, may apply. Projects that lobby, engage in advocacy against public, private, or government organizations; support litigation or potential legal action; or promote or enable hate, discrimination, or violence are ineligible for funding.
The 17-member steering committee, primarily comprised of representatives from organizations serving Beaver County, was created to ensure that decisions on how the mitigation funds are invested benefit the impacted community. The May 24, 2023, consent order and agreement (COA) required the development of a protocol within 60 days, or by Sunday, July 23, 2023.
"I applaud the steering committee for ensuring that community feedback was meaningfully integrated and crafting this protocol in a timely and efficient manner said DEP Secretary Rich Negrin. Funds like this one reflect our new commitment to using our enforcement efforts to maximize resources that are returned to communities. This protocol forms the foundation for what we can do in the future."
The steering committee now embarks on crafting a protocol implementation plan to further detail the process for how project proposals should be submitted, evaluated, and selected. This plan will also establish the financial entity that will serve as the trustee and the process to distribute the funds. A separate, yet-to-be-formed, advisory board will be selected to receive, evaluate, and approve projects.
"We still have a lot of work to do, but this process just proved that a community-driven, collaborative process can work if we do it in an open and transparent fashion," said DEP Special Deputy Secretary for OEJ, Fernando Treviño.
Information on the community fund, permitting, and compliance information is available on DEP's community information webpage for the facility: dep.pa.gov/Shell.
For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, please visit the website or follow DEP on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
# # #