CELDF

Media Release: Not an April Fools Joke in Grant Township

Court Ruling: Grant Township Owes $100,000 to Company Seeking to Dump Frack Waste in Community

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Chad Nicholson, Pennsylvania Community Organizer
207-541-3649
chad@celdf.org

GRANT TOWNSHIP, INDIANA COUNTY, PA: On April 1, federal Judge Susan Paradise Baxter issued an order that was not a joke: Grant Township (pop. 741), Baxter declared, owes Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE) over $100,000 in attorney’s fees and costs.

Since 2014, with assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), Grant Township has been fighting to prevent a frack-waste injection well proposed by PGE.

Facts:

  • Injection wells receive radioactive waste, threaten drinking water, and cause earthquakes.
  • PGE, the corporation that intends to dump frack waste, has repeatedly violated permits issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
  • Permits legalizing the proposed injection well have been issued by the DEP and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
  • The PA DEP has sued Grant Township – in state court – to legalize the injection well.
  • PGE has sued Grant Township – in federal court – to operate the injection well.
  • That federal court has agreed with PGE, and has now awarded the corporation over $100,000.
  • The same federal court has fined Grant Township’s attorneys for $52,000 for seeking to defend Grant Township’s authority to protect against frack waste.

Seem like a joke? Sadly, it’s not. It’s how our system of law and government are set up to work. The fine against Grant Township is only the most recent indication of how our legal system protects corporate interests at the expense of our health and safety.

“This is how courts destroy communities,” said Stacy Long, Vice-Chair of the Grant Township Board of Supervisors. “They side with industry, attempt to bankrupt us, and attempt to silence our lawyers. While we hoped for justice from the court all this time, we’ve bitterly learned to not expect it.”

Supervisor Long added, “This hideous decision continues to reinforce what we’ve come to know, that our legal and political system favors polluting corporations above our health and safety.” (See Grant Township’s public statement regarding the ruling.)

Chad Nicholson, CELDF Pennsylvania Organizer, said, “We’re proud to continue to stand with the people of Grant Township. Their fight is not just against an injection well, it’s against an entire system of law that privileges property and commerce above people and nature.”

Nicholson added, “Grant Township is on the frontlines of a growing movement for community rights, mobilizing for laws which protect ‘We the People,’ not ‘We the Corporations.’”

As of today, no injection well has been, or is, operating in Grant Township. The fight continues.

Pennsylvania Communities Part of Growing Movement

Grant Township and other Pennsylvania communities are advancing Community Rights as part of the broader Community Rights movement building across the U.S. Local communities and state Community Rights Networks are partnering with CELDF to advance and protect fundamental democratic and environmental rights. They are working with CELDF to establish Community Rights and the Rights of Nature in law, and prohibit 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. Pennsylvania joins state Community Rights Networks in Oregon, New Hampshire, and Ohio, where residents are advancing Community Rights state constitutional amendments.

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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