Negotiating community benefits, like those with Shell in Beaver County, takes a village. So does mitigating harm
There is a literal framework being developed for how to spend $5 million from a Shell Chemical settlement with state environmental regulators. There’s also a more conceptual framework emerging from this effort, writes Anya Litvak in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In a nutshell:
The ongoing development of a $5 million mitigation fund from a settlement with Shell Chemical presents an innovative approach to addressing the harm caused by industrial projects in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Litvak reports that the fund acts as a proof of concept for the Department of Environmental Protection, which plans to secure community-run mitigation funds in future settlements with regulated companies.
“All of the agreements have a pay-to-pollute aspect about them, which no one on the advocacy side is happy about.” Matt Mehalik, executive director of the Breathe Project, said. “On the glass-half-full side, it’s making the best of a bad situation. And there’s degrees of making the best of it.”
The big picture:
Living near a petrochemical plant exposes communities to significant health dangers due to the emissions and pollutants released during industrial processes. These facilities release toxic substances into the air, soil and water, leading to increased risks of respiratory problems, cardiovascular diseases and various cancers. The constant exposure to harmful chemicals can have long-term detrimental effects on the well-being of residents, particularly vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly. As billions of federal funding are allocated for infrastructure and energy projects, the insights gained from Beaver County's efforts could shape how communities advocate for compensation and a say in future developments, potentially mitigating the need for such funds in the future.
Read the article at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Read Kristina Marusic's investigation for EHN on the health and economic impacts of Shell's massive Beaver County complex in The Titans of Plastic.