The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has sued two tiny townships that banned shale-gas wastewater disposal wells, setting the state on a collision course with municipalities over who governs oil and gas operations within a town’s local boundaries.

The DEP  filed suits Monday in Commonwealth Court against Highland Township, Elk County, and Grant Township, Indiana County, seeking to invalidate home-rule charters that the towns’ voters expressly approved to ban wastewater wells.

The legal actions were unmentioned in DEP’s public announcement on Monday that it had approved long-delayed permits in the townships for disposal wells.

Read the full article from the Philadelphia Inquirer here.

Press Release from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)  here.

Comment by Tish O’ Dell, Ohio community rights organizer for the CELDF:
These actions by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are TRULY “revealing how the system works and who it is actually protecting. Can’t be any clearer that the people’s own government and an agency funded by tax dollars is NOT there to PROTECT the PEOPLE or the ENVIRONMENT of PA. But rather is actually there to issue permits to legalize the harm to the people and the community. With these permits in hand, the oil/gas companies will now have an even stronger case in court to bully the people with in to submission.

Do not make any mistake that the system works any differently in Ohio. This is why we the people must fight to change the system and structure that allows this corrupt and illegitimate law to continue. Why we must resist in many communities and begin to break this fixed system and replace it with one that puts people and nature above corporate profits. It is why going to the current system and pleading for them to help or save us won’t work…. they are the ones who set up the system to work this way. From their perspective the system isn’t broken at all… it’s working exactly as they planned it would.

Remember past movements for change were not won in a single lawsuit in one place at one time. It took many people and communities continually firing torpedoes at the illegitimate system that oppressed them. It took courageous people who weren’t just concerned about their present, but who looked at the future and how their fights and struggles might help those who came after them. These brave people in Grant and Highland may lose in a corporate court, but by standing up for their rights and their community, they may have planted seeds that the next communities will build on to make the real change.

I thank these people in Grant and Highland and I thank all of the people in Ohio who continue to challenge and fight to reveal, expose and change this horrible, unjust system and transform it so that it really can become a democracy of self governing people and not just in name only”.

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