The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) this week 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 and that applications are now being sought.
By way of background: 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 plan also names The Pittsburgh Foundation as the trustee to manage and disburse the funds.
The Beaver County Environmental Mitigation Community Fund advisory board is composed 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.
The application period for community projects to benefit the environment, health, and/or quality of life for communities in Beaver County will run through Feb. 29. A link to the application and more information can be found on DEP's community information webpage for the fund.
A few necessary details:
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.
The advisory board will host two in-person public meetings, one virtual public meeting, two virtual question-and-answer sessions, and 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.
Editor's Note: Stay tuned! GASP continues to follow this issue and will keep you posted as the process proceeds.