The Colcom Foundation says it has set aside $1 million to fund local projects “designed to address the accelerating environmental impact of shale drilling in western Pennsylvania through public education, community engagement, best practices, baseline data collection, on-going monitoring, land owner guidance, and collaborative projects.” Foundation Vice President of Philanthropy John Rohe says the goal is to instill a higher level of integrity and trustworthiness in shale drilling. “There are a lot of mixed messages out there,” says Rohe, “it seems that one side will say one thing and the other side will say another thing and there is a great deal of debate. Maybe we just need a better way to gather the reliable information that is needed to assess these risks.”
Rohe says he hopes the nonprofit organizations that get the grants will help landowners and the general public understands the ethical issues and risks involved in Marcellus drilling. But he says it is not a fund with an assumption that drilling is bad or an anti drilling company fund. “If we can devise the best practices to create a safe way to conduct drilling, the drillers would be the beneficiaries of that because they probable never have to confront the daunting prospect of an environmental hazard that threatens their financial well being,” says Rohe.
Applicants in the first round of grant will have until January 14th to submit the needed information. A second round of grants will use a March 14th deadline.