The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) is a nonprofit organization committed to preserving the environment through the effective implementation and enforcement of environmental laws.
Since 2016, the watchdog organization’s work in South West Pennsylvania has been supported by Colcom Foundation.
Over the past decade, western Pennsylvania has experienced a significant shale gas boom, propelling the Commonwealth to become the second-largest producer of natural gas in the United States. This surge in natural gas production has necessitated the development of extensive physical infrastructure, including gas wells, drilling sites, pipelines, compressor stations, and additional facilities like liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants and ethylene crackers.
However, the rapid development has sparked serious concerns about the potential environmental impacts, especially concerning the expansion of infrastructure and its implications.
State and federal agencies entrusted with environmental protection often face limitations in resources and encounter political interference from well-funded industry lobbyists. These factors hinder their ability to regulate the industries they are mandated to oversee.
EIP is a nonpartisan and nonprofit watchdog organization operating as a 501(c)(3) that works to rectify this imbalance by equipping communities with the necessary legal and technical support to assert their rights under environmental laws.
Comprised of a team of former EPA enforcement attorneys, public interest lawyers, analysts, investigators, and community organizers, EIP has three primary goals.
First, EIP aims to provide objective facts and figures that highlight how the failure to enforce or implement environmental laws contributes to increased pollution and poses risks to public health. By presenting evidence-based information, the organization strives to raise awareness and foster understanding of the importance of environmental law enforcement.
Second, EIP works to hold federal and state agencies, as well as individual corporations, accountable for their failures to enforce or comply with environmental laws. Recognizing that limited resources and political interference can hinder these agencies’ effectiveness, EIP’s advocacy efforts ensure that regulatory bodies fulfill their responsibilities in protecting the environment and public health.
Third, EIP seeks to empower local communities by helping them access the protections offered by environmental laws. Acting as a watchdog, the organization strives to level the playing field by providing communities with the necessary legal and technical resources to assert their rights under environmental laws.
One of EIP’s recent achievements, made possible through funding received by Colcom Foundation, was the defeat of a proposal for a shale gas well. The proposed project faced strong opposition from local residents due to concerns about its potential adverse effects on pollution and human health. EIP played a crucial role in assisting community members by helping them prepare testimony, which ultimately resulted in the denial of the permit by the West Deer Township Board of Supervisors. This victory demonstrates the importance of community empowerment and the EIP’s commitment to leveling the playing field for local residents facing environmental challenges.
EIP’s advocacy, with financial support from Colcom Foundation, also led to the defeat of the proposed expansion of Energy Transfer’s Revolution Pipeline cryogenic plant. This victory is significant as it prevented the doubling of toxic air pollution emissions in Washington County, safeguarding the health and well-being of local communities.
Furthermore, an EIP investigation uncovered a violation by Revolution, where the company failed to meet Clean Air Act construction deadlines for a second cryogenic plant proposed at its facility. Thanks to EIP’s documentation of this violation, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) took action, issuing a letter to Revolution, declaring the construction permit invalid.
Another significant achievement of the EIP was the successful blocking of the Beech Hollow natural gas-fired power plant proposed in Robinson Township. This power plant would have emitted toxic air pollution and greenhouse gases in an area already burdened with some of the worst air quality in the United States. Through legal actions and advocacy efforts, EIP effectively protected the health and environment of the affected community, demonstrating the tangible impact of their work.
EIP also recently organized over 200 individuals to attend a public hearing regarding a proposed natural gas plant permit in Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties. By mobilizing community members and raising their voices, EIP effectively brought attention to the potential environmental impacts of the project.
Colcom Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to supporting initiatives that promote environmental conservation, sustainability, and the protection of natural resources. With a focus on fostering a healthy and resilient environment, the Foundation is committed to addressing pressing environmental challenges to create a more sustainable future.
Colcom Foundation’s financial support serves as the lifeblood that sustains organizations like the EIP that work to protect the environment, enabling them to carry out their vital work.
By providing crucial funding, the Foundation plays a pivotal role in ensuring that these organizations can continue their efforts to safeguard the natural world, empowering environmental protection initiatives and enabling them to address pressing issues, advocate for policy changes, conduct research, and engage communities.
Colcom Foundation’s support of EIP, born out of shared objectives, holds up the cause of environmental accountability and serves as a testament to the transformative impact that can be achieved when organizations with the ability and determination to address environmental challenges receive the financial backing they need to fulfill their objectives.