Prove your humanity

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection just announced finalized guidelines for what the office says is one of its largest environmental mitigation funds ever — $5 million. The funds come from a settlement with Shell Chemical Appalachia, LLC over air quality volitions at its Beaver County ethane cracker.

In May, Shell agreed to pay $10 million for polluting the air around its cracker plant, which processes natural gas to make the base components of plastics. Half of that settlement was used to create the new mitigation fund.

A recently released document outlines DEP guidelines for how the money will be handled and spent. The fund is meant for nonprofit-driven projects designed to improve the environment, health, or quality-of-life in Beaver County. The protocol says at least one project should improve air-quality testing near the plant. Another must focus on community education, so people in the region can come up with ways to improve the lives of those who live near the plant.

“The Consent Order and Agreement includes a strong recommendation to fund a project that provides additional and independent air monitoring,” said DEP Secretary Rich Negrin in a press release. “We’re encouraged by the community feedback we received supporting that and the steering committee incorporated it in the final protocol.”

The DEP put together a 17-member steering committee earlier this month to develop the rules. Committee members include representatives from Shell, DEP and members of local community groups like RiverWise and Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community.

That group must now create an implementation plan.

Residents rally against Shell plastics plant pollution in Beaver County