Grant Township, in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, has been fighting the energy industry since 2013 in an effort to prevent the creation of fracking wastewater injection wells within the Township. Earlier this year, the Grant Township Supervisors passed a first-in-the-nation law that legalizes direct action to stop creation of injection wells within the Township.
“We’re tired of being told by corporations and our so-called environmental regulatory agencies that we can’t stop this injection well! This isn’t a game. We’re being threatened by a corporation with a history of permit violations, and that corporation wants to dump toxic frack wastewater into our Township,” Grant Township Supervisor Stacy Long explained.
The wastewater, a byproduct of oil and gas drilling, can contain toxic metals, benzene, and radioactive materials. Energy companies typically dispose of it by pumping it into the ground through injection wells, but the toxic water can leak out of the rock layer where it’s injected and contaminate drinking water supplies.
According to a press release from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), Pennsylvania General Energy Company sued the Township to overturn a local law passed in 2014 that prohibits injection wells. In October 2015, a judge invalidated parts of the law, stating that the Township lacked authority to ban injection wells. In November 2015, residents voted in a new Home Rule Charter that reinstated the ban on injection wells by a 2-to-1 vote, effectively overriding the judge’s decision. The suit is still ongoing.
In May 2016, the Township Supervisors passed the law legalizing direct action to stop the injection wells. Under this latest law, if the courts fail to protect the community, the people have the right to enforce their Charter through nonviolent direct action. The ordinance also prohibits “any private or public actor from bringing criminal charges or filing any civil or other criminal action against those participating in nonviolent direct action.”
Other communities across Pennsylvania and the US are fighting similar battles to prevent pollution. Grant Township Supervisor and Chairman Jon Perry said, “Sides need to be picked. Should a polluting corporation have the right to inject toxic waste, or should a community have the right to protect itself?”
If you are interested in supporting the efforts in Grant Township, please contact Stacy Long at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724.840.7214.