Chad Nicholson

 Community Fighting for Right to Say “No” to Frack Injection Well

Grant Township, Facing Frack Waste, Voted “Yes” on Home Rule in November,  Wins Key Court Ruling


Mercersburg, PA:  Tonight, voters in Highland Township, Elk County, voted “yes” to take the first step toward becoming a Home Rule community. Further, the community elected  a Home Rule Government Study Commission, tasked with drafting a Home Rule Charter to increase local democratic control for Township residents. The Commission was voted in 91:78.

The vote in Highland Township comes as the community has spent the past four years fighting to protect its water and local environment from a proposed frack waste injection well.

In 2012, Highland residents learned that Seneca Resources corporation was planning to inject frack wastewater in the Township. They contacted the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) for assistance in drafting a Community Bill of Rights prohibiting frack wastewater injection wells. The ordinance was adopted in January 2013.

Seneca sued the Township in federal court in 2015, claiming a corporate “right” to inject the waste. While CELDF is currently defending the Township in court, residents voted today to pursue Home Rule to advance democratic rights by expanding local control to protect their community.

“We want to make sure that ‘we the people’ are in control of our community, it’s as simple as that,” said Highland Township resident Marsha Buhl. “We don’t want to be sacrificed to harmful corporate projects, or be told what to do by bureaucrats in Harrisburg.”

CELDF’s Pennsylvania community organizer Chad Nicholson added, “Facing fracking and other threats, communities across Pennsylvania are taking steps to expand local control. They are adopting rights-based ordinances, or pursuing Home Rule,  asserting Community Rights over corporate claimed ‘rights’ and state preemption.”


Grant Township, PA

Grant Township, Indiana County, PA, several hours south of Highland, is also facing a proposed frack wastewater injection well.  Facing a legal challenge from Pennsylvania General Energy Company, a federal judge recently issued a ruling against the corporation. The corporation had asked the court to shield it from producing evidence in the case, in response to discovery requests made by the Township. Judge Susan Baxter denied the company’s motion and ruled that PGE must turn over documents and other information to the Township.

Stacy Long, a Grant Township Supervisor, stated, “It will be interesting to see what PGE was trying to conceal. We look forward to learning more about what PGE’s real plans for the proposed injection well are.”

Community members in Grant Township voted in a rights-based Home Rule Charter last November to strengthen their injection well ban and expand local control.

Pennsylvania Communities Part of Growing Movement

Pennsylvania residents and their local representatives are advancing Community Rights as part of the broader Community Rights Movement building across the United States. Local communities and state Community Rights Networks are partnering with CELDF to advance fundamental democratic and environmental rights. They are working with CELDF to establish Community Rights and the Rights of Nature in law, and prohibit extraction,  fracking, factory farming, water privatization, and other industrial activities as violations of those rights. Communities are joining together within and across states, working with CELDF to advance systemic change – recognizing our existing system of law and governance as inherently undemocratic and unsustainable.


Additional Information

For additional information regarding Highland Township, contact CELDF at To learn about the Pennsylvania  Community Rights Network, visit To learn about the Community Rights Movement, visit


About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.



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