Program to combat pollution open again
Applications being accepted for grants
By JEFF MONTGOMERY • The News Journal • November 1, 2010
Delaware has opened a new round of applications for grants from a shrinking, polluter-financed program that supports environmental projects in communities near the original violations.
At last report, the Community Environmental Project fund had about $464,500 available for next year, down from a balance of $1.9 million last year.
Reforms to environmental reporting and penalty laws earlier this decade obliged the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to earmark 25 percent of polluter penalties for community projects where the violations occurred.
Payments into the fund peaked in 2006 with nearly $2 million, topped by a $1.4 million penalty issued to Motiva Enterprises, a former owner of the Delaware City Refinery.
Beneficiaries have included a citizen-led air pollution sampling effort in Claymont, an eco-tourism initiative in Delaware City, ball fields in Bear, tree-plantings in Seaford and transit-use promotions statewide.
DNREC Deputy Secretary David Small said the recession and the recent large plant closings have reduced the number of major pollution penalties issued by the agency, limiting resources available to the fund.
A $70,000 award from the fund will pay for the planting of hundreds of trees in spots around Seaford, said Jen Bruhler, assistant director of urban forestry for the Delaware Center for Horticulture.
"Wherever possible, we're trying to plant the largest shade trees that we can, because they do provide more of the environmental benefits," Bruhler said. "That's especially important since we're trying to mitigate air pollution violations."
Bruhler said the center hopes to expand its work statewide. The group is involved in a separate, major tree planting in downtown Wilmington , due to start next year.
DNREC and its advisory council have scheduled two public workshops on upcoming funding opportunities.
Sessions will be held Wednesday at DNREC's offices at 391 Lukens Drive, New Castle. A second is set for next Monday in the auditorium of the agency's Dover headquarters at 89 Kings Highway.
Both workshops will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
The program is open to projects that reduce pollution or enhance natural resources in ways that create recreational opportunities. Applicants must match 25 percent of the award through volunteer services, funds or donated supplies.
Funds are available for non-profit groups representing areas where violations have occurred.
Details are available at DNREC's website, www.dnrec. delaware.gov/CIAC. Applications will be available until Jan. 21.
Contact Jeff Montgomery at 678-4277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.