Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rendell Awards Smallest Round Of Growing Greener Grants

Gov. Rendell this week announced the awarding of $14.1 million in grants for 87 projects in 36 counties-- $8.13 million from Growing Greener Funds, $4.17 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and $1.8 million from forfeited bonds from mining companies.
The combined state and federal investment is being matched by more than $6.7 million from outside sources.
Among other projects, the grants will fund more than 100 miles of riparian buffers, improve stream banks along nearly 30,000 feet of waterway and treat hundreds of millions of gallons of acid mine drainage each year.
Additionally, the Governor said a portion of the projects are serving to educate the public, school children and farmers about good environmental stewardship and conservation practices. Those lessons, he added, will pay lifelong dividends.
"These grants are about our future; they're supporting important projects to correct the poor practices and neglect of the past," said Gov. Rendell. "These funds are restoring important parts of our environment so issues like abandoned mines or acid mine drainage-contaminated streams don't pose a threat to the residents of our communities. By cleaning up these waters and sites, not only are we improving our environment, we're turning these assets into opportunities that can improve the quality of life in these areas."
Growing Greener funds will pay for 62 projects and EPA funding will pay for 21. These projects propose to:
-- Plant more than 100 miles of riparian buffers;
-- Improve nearly 30,000 linear feet of stream banks;
-- Treat more than 144.5 million gallons of acid mine drainage each year before it reaches Pennsylvania's streams and rivers;
-- Improve water quality along more than 13,600 feet of streams previously contaminated by acid mine drainage;
-- Reclaim at least 112 acres of abandoned mine land;
-- Build or restore more than 330 acres of wetland; and
-- Help 77 farms implement best-management practices so their operations have less of an impact on water quality.
In this latest grant round, there were 163 applications requesting $41.7 million. Nearly $30 million in projects were unfunded, leaving untold miles of streams in need of restoration, protection and treatment and many acres of abandoned mine lands in need of reclamation work to eliminate safety hazards.
Gov. Rendell noted funds available through Environmental Stewardship Fund to support Growing Greener grants and other environmental improvement efforts have declined from $111 million in 2003 to $70.6 million in 2009.
The fund is supported by tipping fees, but with less waste being disposed of and treated in Pennsylvania, revenues have declined.
Gov. Rendell and the General Assembly capped the Growing Greener Fund in 2005 by using the tipping fees to fund a $625 million bond issue making most of those monies unavailable to fund projects beyond June 2010. (See Report Confirms Growing Greener II Money Gone)
A list of projects funded is available online. (updated link)

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