Feature photo by Mike Belleme for Rolling Stone
How is it that Grant Township, Pennsylvania (population less than 700) is always in the news? More importantly, how is the fight, the resistance, and many of the key elements for the deeper transition we need worldwide centered in this tiny township?
Since 2014 Grant has been making headlines, and 2023 is not going to be any different. The people, alongside the elected officials, have been fighting the siting of a highly toxic fracking waste injection well since 2014, and the stakes continue to be raised.
To date, not a drop of fracking waste has been deposited within the community thanks to their steadfast refusal to be yet another sacrifice zone, with no thanks to the courts or environmental regulatory agencies (or Pennsylvania’s current attorney general and governor-elect Josh Shapiro, despite his office’s settlement recently in another PA sacrifice zone in Dimock). CELDF has been proud to stand with Grant throughout.
Longtime readers are probably familiar with many of the contours of Grant’s fight. For newer readers, there are volumes of links, newsletters, press releases, legal briefs, and local/state/national/international media that can give a broader picture, listed below.
For now, as we close out 2022, here’s a quick by-the-numbers:
- Grant Township is a small rural community in Indiana County, PA, with an annual tax revenue of around $30,000
- Grant Township has twice banned injection wells via local laws, once via ordinance, and once via a Home Rule Charter enacted by a majority of the people within the Township
- Grant Township has been sued twice in federal court by Pennsylvania Energy Company (PGE), a multimillion-dollar fossil fuel corporation that wants to inject waste within the Township against the will of the community
- Grant Township has also been sued in state court by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), with the DEP claiming that it’s the DEP’s responsibility to oversee frack waste disposal, not the community’s responsibility
- Let that last point sink in: DEP, funded by taxpayer dollars, is suing the community for trying to protect its environment
- There is one (1) federal Environmental Protection Agency permit authorizing frack waste injection in Grant Township
- Two (2) state DEP permits authorizing injection have been issued, and later revoked
- Grant Township, and Grant Township’s CELDF-supported attorneys, have been hit with fees and sanctions in the tens of thousands of dollars for working to protect the community’s rights
- Grant Township has also passed a local law that authorizes nonviolent direct action within the community, if the courts do not uphold the people of Grant Township’s rights to protect the health and safety of the community
As we reflect at the end of another long year, we must understand, and never forget, that what has happened in Grant Township to date is not an accident. The system – corporations, courts, state and federal agencies – crash down on efforts that assert rights and resist oppression, and try to force those involved in those efforts into submission.
Grant is yet another community that is supposed to take the brunt of the defects of the system and just live with them. Grant, like so many other places, is supposed to just accept the injustice. Yet the people of Grant have said “no,” and continue to say “no”- “no” to becoming another Dimock, “no” to becoming another energy colony.
For as wild as the story has been so far, Grant Township’s fight is not unique. Their resistance draws on centuries of struggles against those who put property and dollars above the interests of people, communities, and nature. What’s happening in Grant is also not unique to only rural communities, or poorer communities.
Grant Township is Everywhere, USA, and what’s happening there can happen to any of us.
A federal lawsuit and a state lawsuit (now before the PA Supreme Court) continue into 2023. As we head into the new year, please join us in continuing to stand with Grant Township. And let’s not only support them with words or dollars, but also follow their lead and bravely build on their efforts in the communities where we live.
If you’ve not heard about Grant Township’s fight before, here is a link to much more background, a timeline, and court documents. Grant Township has also been featured in national media, including Rolling Stone and The New Republic, as well as a full-length documentary titled Invisible Hand.
Please contact Chad Nicholson with further questions or comments: