Community Foundation to oversee $300,000 clean vehicle fund
Statement on PennEnvironment settlement from Phil Koch, executive director of Community Foundation of Westmoreland County
Greensburg, Pa., Dec. 20, 2017 – The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County (CFWC) has been chosen to oversee a $300,000 fund established under a Clean Air Act settlement with ArcelorMittal for air quality violations at the company’s Monessen coke plant. The Foundation will actively look to fund projects that improve air quality and reduce vehicle emissions in the communities most affected by the coke plant: Monessen, Donora, Caroll Township and Monongahela. Details on the settlement may be found here on PennEnvironment's website.
The Community Foundation was chosen because of its knowledge of community issues and connections to the neighborhoods affected by the coke plant. Other components of the settlement require ArcelorMittal to invest extensively in technology and upgrades throughout the plant to reduce pollution and improve environmental compliance, and pay a $1.5 million civil penalty for its past violations along with substantial fines for any future violations.
“The goal is to work closely with local school districts, nonprofits and municipal governments to find the best ways to reduce municipal vehicle and school bus emissions to improve air quality in the region,” said CFWC Executive Director Phil Koch. “We will find and fund vehicle emissions projects that offer substantial public health and environmental benefits to the people who live and work in the area most affected by pollution from the ArcelorMittal plant,” he said.
Starting immediately, the CFWC will call for projects that include upgrading or replacing high-emission cars and trucks, and school and public buses from model years earlier than 2007. Priority will be given to projects that meet stringent emissions standards through electric and hybrid engines certified by the EPA, or the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Installation of electric charging stations and related electric vehicle infrastructure will also be sought.
The new fund is one of the settlement outcomes that had been a priority of PennEnvironment, the nonprofit citizen group that initiated the lawsuit against ArcelorMittal for repeated environmental and air quality violations. The overall cash payout resulting from the settlement, $1.8 million, is believed to be the largest penalty in Pennsylvania history in a citizen suit brought to enforce the federal Clean Air Act.
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