October 4, 2011
CONTACT: Ben Price, (717) 254-3233
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Monday, October 3, 2011) Washington County Judge Paul Pozonsky turned down a request by Peters Township Council to bar a referendum question from appearing on the ballot in November that, if approved by the voters, would create a local Bill of Rights and ban fracking.
Judge Pozonsky ruled that the court lacks jurisdiction to impose an injunction against the proposed home rule charter amendment, and that allowing the voters to approve or deny the adoption of the amendment did not create an immediate harm to the township.
The citizens’ group, Peters Township Marcellus Shale Awareness (PTMSA,) circulated petitions to local citizens in accordance with the Pennsylvania Home Rule Statute to place an amendment to the City Charter on the November 8th ballot, but at their September 12th meeting the Council voted unanimously to ask the Washington County Court of Common Pleas to enjoin the Washington County Board of Elections from posting the proposed charter amendment to the ballot.
The Community Environmental Legal Defense (CELDF) filed for intervenor status with the Court, on behalf of PTMSA, and on September 29th the court heard oral arguments. Barring appeals, today’s decision means that the residents of the township will be able to decide whether or not to change their local constitution on November 8th. The proposed amendment would establish a local Bill of Rights, recognizing the fundamental right to water, to local self-government, the rights of eco-systems to exist and flourish, and it would prohibit the extraction of natural gas or the transport, storage or disposal of drilling waste water within Peters Township, among other provisions.
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, headquartered in Chambersburg, has been working with people in Pennsylvania since 1995 to assert their fundamental rights to democratic local self-governance, and to enact laws which end destructive and rights-denying corporate action aided and abetted by state and federal governments.