Court Awards $52,000 to Oil and Gas Company and Calls for Disciplinary Action Against Attorney
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MERCERSBURG, PA: Today, the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania issued an order imposing sanctions on two attorneys defending a Community Bill of Rights Ordinance adopted by Grant Township, Pennsylvania. The Township has spent years fighting to stop frack wastewater injection wells from being sited in the community with assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).
Injection wells – which involve the high pressure underground dumping of millions of gallons of frack wastewater, which contains toxins, carcinogens, and other chemicals – cause earthquakes, can contaminate drinking water, and bring other environmental and public health impacts.
Today’s ruling comes as part of a lawsuit in which Pennsylvania General Energy, LLC (PGE) is suing Grant Township to overturn the Township’s ban on frack wastewater injection wells. (Pennsylvania General Energy Company, LLC v. Grant Township)
Not satisfied with suing the community and questioning its authority to protect the people and environment of Grant Township from injection wells, the company decided to punish its lawyers by seeking monetary sanctions against them.
“At a time when Americans more and more are looking to the courts for reason and justice, today we find neither, as corporate forces once again have been able to wield our institutions of government to punish those working to elevate the rights of communities over fossil fuel corporations,” stated CELDF’s Associate Director Mari Margil.
Magistrate Judge Susan Baxter earlier found that the Township’s prohibition on injection wells violated the corporation’s constitutional rights. The case is scheduled for a jury trial in May, at which PGE will seek hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Township, claiming that it suffered harm because the company has been prevented from dumping frack waste in a residential area next to the Township’s sole source of drinking water.