‘Environmental justice’ areas include Indiana, the northern part of the county | Local News

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released a draft Environmental Justice Public Involvement Policy, intended to strengthen language on how the DEP oversees and participates in environmental justice priorities and reform with community partners.

“The environmental justice policy will benefit parts of Armstrong and Indiana counties facing environmental justice issues as it would in other parts of Pennsylvania,” said DEP press secretary Jamar Thrasher. .

In Indiana County, this would include the boroughs of Indiana, Plumville, Smicksburg, Marion Center, and Glen Campbell, as well as the townships of North Mahoning, South Mahoning, East Mahoning, West Mahoning, Banks, and Canoe.

There is also a buffer zone around Indiana, which includes parts of White Township, and around an environmental zone in the eastern neighborhoods of Derry Township, Westmoreland County, which extends into Burrell Township. , Indiana County, approximately to the Blairsville borough line.

“In Armstrong County, Kittanning/Troy Hill (an area east of Kittanning), Ford City, and Leechburg are all currently designated as EJ areas (based on 2015 census tract data),” a said Thrasher. “There are also half-mile buffers that enter Armstrong County, such as the one that extends from an EJ census tract to Vandergrift (Westmoreland County).”

State Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, has a suggestion for other areas not currently considered EJ areas, comparing the DEP’s position with the Wolf administration’s ongoing bid to integrate Pennsylvania in the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“It shows how disconnected this whole RGGI agenda is,” Pittman said. “They don’t even identify the municipalities that host the coal-fired power plants in our area that will be shut down because of this $410 million electricity tax.”

The “electricity tax” is how Pittman and other RGGI opponents describe the “capped and traded” carbon dioxide allowances that power plants must buy. RGGI advocates said it was not a tax.

This would include generating stations in Center Township (Homer City Generating Station), Plumcreek Township (Keystone Generating Station) and West Wheatfield Township (Conemaugh Generating Station).

Thrasher reiterated that Governor Wolf is committed to using RGGI proceeds for targeted investments to support workers and communities impacted by the energy transition, as well as investing in environmental justice communities and further strengthening Pennsylvania’s growing clean energy and commercial and industrial sectors.

“Pennsylvania’s energy landscape has changed rapidly over the past decade due to changing market demand, and all forecasts predict that these changes will continue,” the DEP spokesperson said.

“RGGI’s revenues provide an opportunity to support communities impacted by the energy transition by providing crucial resources, such as targeted investments in environmental justice communities.”

The DEP will hold three virtual public hearings for the purpose of accepting comments on the draft CY Policy, on April 5 at 5 p.m., April 12 at 6 p.m. and April 28 at noon. Details can be found on the dep.pa.gov website.

Persons wishing to present testimony at a hearing should contact Glenda Davidson, (717) 783-4759 or [email protected], at least 24 hours in advance, to set aside time to present their testimony.

DEP will also accept written comments, either through DEP’s online comment tool at https://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eComment/ or by email at [email protected] gov. Written comments may also be mailed to Technical Advice Coordinator, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Policy, Rachel Carson State Office Building, PO Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063.

Elna M. Lemons