Grant Township Charter Banning Drilling Wastewater Injection Wells Struck Down by Commonwealth Court

Decision appealed to Pennsylvania Supreme Court

By David E. Hess | PA Environment Digest | August 18, 2022

On July 12, Grant Township’s Home Rule Charter banning frack waste injection wells was invalidated by the Commonwealth Court. The Township has appealed the decision to the PA Supreme Court, according to the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund released this summary of the decision–

In 2015, the people of Grant Township in Indiana County enacted a Charter that banned the dumping of frack waste, after Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE) sought permits to site a frack waste injection well there. The waste is known to be radioactive and chemically toxic, and injection wells have also caused earthquakes.

In 2017, the PA Department of Environmental Protection sued the Township, seeking to invalidate the Charter. Yes, you read that correctly: the Department of Environmental Protection sued the Township for trying to protect its environment. 

Grant filed counterclaims against DEP, asking the court to declare that the Charter was a valid law under the Environmental Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania state Constitution and that DEP has failed in its duty to protect Pennsylvanians’ clean air and water. Pennsylvania General Energy later intervened in the lawsuit. 

Last month’s ruling by the Commonwealth Court found that Grant’s Charter violates PGE’s corporate constitutional rights, and is therefore unconstitutional.

 In other words, the Court decided that PGE’s constitutional “rights” to subject the Township to chemical and radiological exposure and tainting of groundwater are more important than the rights of Township residents to have clean air and pure water.

The Township through its attorneys initiated an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on August 11, 2022.

Township Supervisor Chairman Stacy Long said, “Our community has been asserting our rights through our Home Rule Charter for over 6 years, and we have been waiting to show why Grant Township is willing to risk what little we have to be heard in court. I can’t help but to observe that this ruling was phoned in, and that it is simply not profitable for industry or the state – for our community to simply exist as it is, with clean water and the quality of life that we are working so hard to save.“

Still, to this day, thanks to the tireless efforts of the people of Grant Township and those who support them, there is still no injection well, 9 years after PGE first applied for a permit. 

The fight continues.

For more information, visit the Community  Environmental Legal Defense Fund’s ‘Unrepentant’: Grant Township Refuses To Bend To The Fracking Industry webpage.

Questions should be directed to Chad Nicholson, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, chad@celdf.org or 207-541-3649.

Reaction

To get an oil and gas industry view of this decision, read the August 2022 newsletter by the PA Independent Oil & Gas Association (conventional oil and gas drillers).

Related Article This Week:

— PA Supreme Court: Accounting Required For Environmental Rights Amendment Trust Fund Money By John C. Dernbach, Commonwealth Law School, Widener University   [PaEN]

Related Articles:

Grant Twp. Indiana County Defends Itself Against Another Lawsuit By PA General Energy Company Over Its Ordinance Banning Drilling Waste Injection Wells Based On Environmental Rights Amendment  [PaEN]

Grant Twp., Indiana County Moves To Dismiss Lawsuit Against It By DEP Over Drilling Waste Injection Well  [PaEN]

DEP Revokes Drilling Waste Injection Well Permit In Grant Twp., Indiana County After Environmental Rights Amendment Court Ruling  [PaEN]

Premiere Of Mark Ruffalo’s ‘Invisible Hand’ Film About The Rights Of Nature Movement, Including Grant Twp., PA Injection Well Case  [PaEN]

[Posted: August 18, 2022]  PA Environment Digest  |  Source


Grant Township Charter Struck Down by Commonwealth Court

by CELDF

Township Appeals to PA Supreme Court
August 17, 2022

CONTACT:
Chad Nicholson
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
CELDF.org
chad@celdf.org
207-541-3649

Grant Township, Indiana County, PA: Last month, Grant Township’s Home Rule Charter banning frack waste injection wells was invalidated by the PA Commonwealth Court. The Township has appealed the decision to the PA Supreme Court.

In 2015, the people of Grant Township enacted a Charter that banned the dumping of frack waste, after Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE) sought permits to site a frack waste injection well there. The waste is known to be radioactive and chemically toxic, and injection wells have also caused earthquakes.

In 2017, the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sued the Township, seeking to invalidate the Charter. Yes, you read that correctly: the Department of Environmental Protection sued the Township for trying to protect its environment. Grant filed counterclaims against DEP, asking the court to declare that the Charter was a valid law under the Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA) of the PA Constitution and that DEP has failed in its duty to protect Pennsylvanians’ clean air and water. Pennsylvania General Energy later intervened in the lawsuit. 

Last month’s ruling by the Commonwealth Court found that Grant’s Charter violates PGE’s corporate constitutional rights, and is therefore unconstitutional. In other words, the Court decided that PGE’s constitutional “rights” to subject the Township to chemical and radiological exposure and tainting of groundwater are more important than the rights of Township residents to have clean air and pure water.

The Township through its attorneys initiated an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on August 11, 2022.

Township Supervisor Chairman Stacy Long said, “Our community has been asserting our rights through our Home Rule Charter for over 6 years, and we have been waiting to show why Grant Township is willing to risk what little we have to be heard in court. I can’t help but to observe that this ruling was phoned in, and that it is simply not profitable for industry or the state – for our community to simply exist as it is, with clean water and the quality of life that we are working so hard to save.“

Still, to this day, thanks to the tireless efforts of the people of Grant Township and those who support them, there is still no injection well, 9 years after PGE first applied for a permit. The fight continues.

###

About Grant Township

If you’ve not heard about Grant Township’s fight before, here is a link to much more background, a timeline, and court documents. Grant Township has also been featured in national media, including Rolling Stone and The New Republic, as well as a full-length documentary titled Invisible Hand.

Source: https://celdf.org/2022/08/grant-township-charter-struck-down-by-commonwealth-court/

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One Comment on “Grant Township Charter Banning Drilling Wastewater Injection Wells Struck Down by Commonwealth Court

  1. …so the constitutional right of our commonwealth to clean air and water is, completely devoid of meaning

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