Thursday, September 24, 2020

Grant Twp., Indiana County Moves To Dismiss Lawsuit Against It By DEP Over Drilling Waste Injection Well

On September 21, Grant Township in Indiana County filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against it by the Department of Environmental Protection over a drilling waste injection well. 

The DEP sued the township in 2017 for adopting a 2015 municipal Charter -- a local constitution -- that banned frack waste injection wells, known to contain radioactive waste and other toxic chemicals. 

DEP issued a permit for an injection well within Grant Township in 2017, and sued the Township simultaneously.

The motion to dismiss, filed by Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund contract attorney Karen Hoffmann representing Grant, comes after an historic reversal by the DEP in March 2020 to rescind that frack waste permit, citing the very same Grant Charter it is suing to overturn.

The DEP has permitted an historic gas extraction campaign across Pennsylvania, leaving local communities to defend themselves and the environment from the industry. The township was also sued by the private corporation Pennsylvania General Energy for its defense of local ecosystems.

Documents unearthed through the discovery process in the Grant Township case shows the DEP has never denied an application for a permit that would allow, in whole or in part, the injection of fracking waste in an underground well.

“Of course we’re filing to dismiss,” says Grant Township Supervisor Vice-Chair Stacy Long. “The DEP brought this on and now it’s running away? How can there be a lawsuit against the Charter if the DEP now recognizes it as valid law? They should be embarrassed at the runaround they are giving us. The majority of our citizens here said NO to this project, knowing the adverse consequences would be our sole burden. We did the hard work and voted in a law to protect ourselves when no one else would, and here we are. That law is still good, and a state agency recognizes it as such.”

Long and other local government representatives are supporting a state constitutional amendment in House Bill 1813 (Otten,-D-Chester) that would place the rights of people over the interests of private corporations and empower communities to heighten state protections for civil, human and ecosystem rights. 

“Dismissing this bogus lawsuit is another step in stopping harmful activity by DEP, and clearing the path for a deeper examination of misconduct not just by the DEP, but our state government which passes preemptive laws and legalizes destructive corporate behavior. Communities are always on defense, fighting things off. It’s time we turn that around and push forward with a movement for change that protects all communities,” said CELDF Pennsylvania Community Organizer Chad Nicholson. 

Grant Township is continuing its 2017 countersuit asking the court to declare that DEP has violated the Pennsylvania Constitution and Grant Township’s Charter by failing to protect the people’s right to clean air, pure water, and the preservation of the environment, and by attempting to prevent the people of the township from exercising and advancing their rights.

Related Articles:

-- DEP Revokes Drilling Waste Injection Well Permit In Grant Twp., Indiana County After Environmental Rights Amendment Court Ruling

-- Court: Indiana County Twp. Has Right To Defend Its Prohibition Of A Drilling Wastewater Injection Well Using The Environmental Rights Amendment

-- Premiere Of Mark Ruffalo's 'Invisible Hand' Film About The Rights Of Nature Movement, Including Grant Twp., PA Injection Well Case

-- Drilling Company, Environmental Group Appeal Indiana County Drilling Waste Injection Well Permit

-- DEP Approves 2 Underground Drilling Waste Injection Wells In Elk, Indiana Counties

Related Articles This Week:

-- DEP Collects $736,000 From TransCo For Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Violations In 9 Counties 

-- DEP OKs Permit Changes For Mariner East 2 Pipeline In Delaware, Chester Counties

-- PUC Orders Sunoco Pipeline L.P. To Conduct Public Education & Awareness Meeting In Cumberland County

[Posted: Sept. 24, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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