Grant Township, Pennsylvania is the site of many natural gas wells that pull up fossil fuels from buried rock, providing some with royalty payments or free gas. However, the small town now also houses the Marjorie C. Yanity well, re-designed to send liquid waste from oil and gas wells into the rocks 7,500 feet below the surface. Fearing potential contamination of their local environment, Grant’s 740 citizens have tried to stop this underground waste reservoir and continue to voice their opposition to this well and others like it.
Grant enlisted the help of nonprofit organization, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), to claim the right to self-government through a municipal charter adopted by popular vote in 2015. The charter seeks to prevent contamination of the community’s water supplies by prohibiting companies from depositing oil and gas waste and forbidding regulators to permit waste disposal in the town.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sued Grant Township and its supervisors when the state issued a permit to convert the Yanity gas well into a disposal well. Grant filed a counter-claim, asserting that local governments are authorized to protect the community’s environment pursuant to the state constitution.
A consulting and engineering firm estimates that Pennsylvania would need between 17 and 34 more disposal wells to do away with oilfield waste fluids by this method. DEP argues that underground disposal does not pose a threat to the environment and is a safe way to handle waste compared to alternatives such as evaporation and distillation, which can create additional hazards. However, Grant residents disagree, citing previous incidents of contamination and related disagreements over property, right of way, and royalty checks.
Beyond appealing the state’s well permits, Grant has endorsed nonviolent civil disobedience by residents. Rolling Stone referred to the town as a renegade township on the front line of a new environmental movement. This revolt may continue to spread to other areas of Pennsylvania. Residents in towns and cities other than Grant have already joined the fight.
At Williams Cedar, our oil spill lawyers in Pennsylvania are experienced in representing individuals and communities who have been exposed to toxic chemicals released into the environment. Due to underground tank leakage or other forms of pollution, toxic chemicals can often seep into soil or drinking water, damaging property and causing people in the vicinity to become ill. If you or a loved one has been harmed due to toxic material exposure, contact us online or call us at 215-557-0099 to schedule a free consultation. We fight for victims of toxic exposure throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide, including Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Chester County, Bucks County, and Berks County.