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Excerpt: "This is a press release from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund about a groundbreaking strategy of resistance by a small Pennsylvania town trying to defend itself from the fossil fuel industry."

Protest against fracking. (photo:
Protest against fracking. (photo:

PA Township Legalizes Civil Disobedience

By Tim DeChristopher, Tim DeChristopher's Blog

10 May 16


This is a press release from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund about a groundbreaking strategy of resistance by a small Pennsylvania town trying to defend itself from the fossil fuel industry.

rant Township, Indiana County, PA: Tonight, Grant Township Supervisors passed a first-in-the- nation law that legalizes nonviolent direct action to stop frack wastewater injection wells within the Township. Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) has sued the Township to overturn a local democratically-enacted law that prohibits injection wells.

If a court does not uphold the people’s right to stop corporate activities threatening the well-being of the community, the ordinance codifies that, “any natural person may then enforce the rights and prohibitions of the charter through direct action.” Further, the ordinance states that any nonviolent direct action to enforce their Charter is protected, “prohibit[ing] any private or public actor from bringing criminal charges or filing any civil or other criminal action against those participating in nonviolent direct action.”

Grant Township Supervisor Stacy Long explained, "We're tired of being told by corporations and our so-called environmental regulatory agencies that we can't stop this injection well! This isn't a game. We're being threatened by a corporation with a history of permit violations, and that corporation wants to dump toxic frack wastewater into our Township."

Long continued, "I live here, and I was also elected to protect the health and safety of this Township. I will do whatever it takes to provide our residents with the tools and protections they need to nonviolently resist aggressions like those being proposed by PGE."

In 2013, residents in Grant Township learned that PGE was applying for permits that would legalize the injection well. Despite hearings, public comments, and permit appeals demonstrating the residents' opposition to the project, the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a permit to PGE.

Finding themselves with no other options, residents requested the help of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Grant Township Supervisors, with broad community support, passed a CELDF-drafted Community Bill of Rights ordinance in June 2014. The ordinance established rights to clean air and water, the right to local community self-government, and the rights of nature. The proposed injection well is prohibited as a violation of those rights.

PGE promptly sued the Township, claiming that it had a "right" to inject within the Township.

The case is ongoing. Last year, in October 2015, the judge invalidated parts of the ordinance, stating that the Township lacked authority to ban injection wells. Three weeks later, in November 2015, residents voted in a new Home Rule Charter. The rights-based Charter reinstated the ban on injection wells by a 2-to-1 vote, overriding the judge's decision.

CELDF assisted the community with the drafting of the Charter and is representing the Township in the ongoing litigation with PGE.

Grant Township Supervisor and Chairman Jon Perry summed up the situation by saying, "Sides need to be picked. Should a polluting corporation have the right to inject toxic waste, or should a community have the right to protect itself?"

Perry continued, "I was elected to serve this community, and to protect the rights in our Charter voted in by the people I represent. If we have to physically and nonviolently stop the trucks from coming in because the courts fail us, we will do so. And we invite others to stand with us."

Those others are showing up. Tim DeChristopher, co-founder of the Climate Disobedience Center, stated, “I’m encouraged to see an entire community and its elected officials asserting their rights to defend their community from the assaults of the fossil fuel industry, and I know there are plenty of folks in the climate movement ready to stand with Grant Township.”

CELDF community organizer Chad Nicholson has been working with the community since 2014. He added, "In our country's history, we celebrate people standing up to challenge unjust laws. The American Revolution, abolition, women's suffrage, the labor and civil rights movements, marriage equality - all required people to take action resisting illegitimate laws. All required creating new and more just laws in their place. We applaud the people of Grant Township for taking action as their community is threatened, and asserting their rights. It is an honor to stand with them." your social media marketing partner


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+27 # Ken Halt 2016-05-10 22:54
Direct citizen action, people manning up and going into the streets, that's what it's going to take to turn this plutocracy around. Tim DeChristopher is a real-life hero, having spent time in jail for his principled sabotage of an illegal resource auction. Bernie should make him Sec'y of the Interior if Bernie is elected in Nov.
+23 # tedrey 2016-05-11 02:45
A similar Charter should immediately be instituted in every community in the country until the states and the federal government catch up.
+11 # Hendrik Gideonse 2016-05-11 04:34
Whether it's defending water, or the environment, or continuing to build fossil fuel infrastructure, or asserting people's rights to grow and consume the foods of their choice, or pointing out the absurdity of economic discourse grounded on assumptions of "growth" and unsustainable consumption -- the basic threat is to democracy in its most fundamental sense.

I'm a subscriber and a monthly donor. Several times I have sent Mr. Ash a funding model that would solve theincreasingly annoying dunning problem. If you agree with it, you know what to do with your thumbs.

When someone subscribes to the feed they give their credit card. Every time a subscriber loads an article to read, the card is charged a nominal fee, $.09, $.12, $.15, whatever the cost of the service divided by the annual average of the number of monthly downloads, charged to subscribers cards' monthly.

That would REALLY be Reader Supported News. These lachrymose appeals means every article we read is with a bad taste in our mouths.

Are you in??

I'm posting this on every article I read as a comment. At this point I don't know what else I can do.
+6 # djnova50 2016-05-11 06:09
I have contacted RSN in the past about my inability to donate the minimum $10/month in order to stop getting the requests for fundraising. I suggested that I could donate $5/month for half the amount of fundraising requests. But, the reply I got indicated that the fundraising requests are sent out automatically.

Since I am currently making a small monthly donation to Bernie Sanders campaign, I could make a $5 monthly donation to RSN; but, unfortunately, in order to use PayPal, I would have to go with the full amount of $10/month. I do not have a credit car and do not want to give out my checking account information to RSN.
+5 # Darthvadersmom 2016-05-11 07:55
No clue who is contributing or not. But this is not Corporate Entertainment News or you wouldn't be here reading this. Please do your part, even if it's minimal. If you are homeless or in dire straights, of course you cannot contribute, but if not, at least give the $ you would have paid for a latte or for a magazine. I'm an adjunct, and, if I can do it--I am convinced that the majority of readers can give something.
+3 # Darthvadersmom 2016-05-11 07:56
My comment was not directed to anyone posting in particular--it' s just a plea to the readership in general.
+4 # elkingo 2016-05-11 12:25
Bravo! The Founding Fathers would be proud.

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