Environmentalists Score a Big Win Against Fracking in a Small Pennsylvania Town

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      Earlier this month, in a stunning reversal, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which in 2017 sued Grant Township for interfering with the agency’s authority to administer state oil-and-gas policy, revoked the permit for the injection well.

      “This decision is soooooo delicious,” says Stacy Long, a graphic designer and township supervisor who together with her mother, Judy Wanchisn, a retired elementary-school teacher, helped lead the charge to stop the well. “I am hopeful that the haters and naysayers will take note, and that communities will be inspired with what’s just happened and run with it. Fights like ours should mushroom all around Pennsylvania.”

      Grant Township’s story, first covered by Rolling Stone in 2017, will also be featured in Invisible Hand, a documentary on “rights of nature” produced by Oscar-nominated actor Mark Ruffalo, slated to premiere at the 2020 Columbus International Film Festival in Ohio. “Grant Township has proven against all odds that a community is capable of stronger protections for the environment than state or federal governments,” says the film’s co-director Joshua Pribanic. “By taking a stand and winning, they’ve set a new precedent worldwide on what the rights of nature can accomplish.”

      At play in Grant Township was whether a corporation had the right to inject fracking waste in a resistant community, or whether the community — and its streams, soils, and species — had the right to block the corporation from depositing its waste. In the course of the fight, Grant adopted an ordinance that established its right to local self-government, and later a home-rule charter, made possible by a 1972 state act that sought to give more power to municipal governments. According to their charter, injection wells are illegal — and nature has rights.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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