Court Orders Nonprofit Law Firm to Pay $52,000 to Oil and Gas Company for Defending Local Fracking Waste Ban
Via rjs newletter via Naked Capitalism:
“Among its claims: The injection well ban violates the corporation’s rights as a “person” under the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments; the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and the Contract Clause and Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”
Court Orders Nonprofit Law Firm to Pay $52,000 to Oil and Gas Company for Defending Local Fracking Waste Ban –In early January, a federal judge ordered the nonprofit law firm Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to pay $52,000 to an oil and gas exploration company for defending a rural Pennsylvania township’s ban on underground injections of frack waste.This sanction comes at the request of Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil &Gas Association, but is part of a growing trend to prevent municipalities across the nation from pushing back against state and federal attempts to overrule them.Starting in 2012, PGE proposed an injection well which, according to Grant Township’s Board of Supervisors, “would receive 30,000 barrels [1.26 million gallons] of frack wastewater per month for 10 years.” The board of supervisors for this small community near Pittsburgh warns that the injection well “threatens to subject every resident of Grant Township to a slow poisoning, and threatens thousands more who depend on Grant Township’s watershed for clean water.” The community’s law, they go on, bans the injection well “as a violation of our basic civil rights.”
PGE operates multiple gas-extraction wells in the township. CELDF, which has defended Grant’s efforts to prevent waste injection wells for over three years, has worked with some 200 municipalities in the United States to defend local laws challenging similar corporate projects. The group aims to drive state constitutional change to bolster the rights of local residents and ecosystems against what it calls regressive state preemption and corporate personhood. Grant Township, for example, is elevating a “right of self-government,” rights “to clean air, water, and soil” and “ecosystem rights” above corporations’ “rights” to inject waste from oil and gas extraction in the township. These types of local laws often face substantial legal pushback from private corporations and states which claim authority over issues such as fossil fuel production. Along with the sanctions against CELDF, PGE is suing Grant Township itself, population 741, for damages that would likely be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Among its claims: The injection well ban violates the corporation’s rights as a “person” under the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments; the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and the Contract Clause and Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.