Grant Township’s people are in a hell of a fight against the fossil fuel hydra. The 700-person Western Pennsylvania community is resisting Pennsylvania General Energy Company’s (PGE) creation of a deep injection well that would pump millions of gallons of toxic fracking wastewater under its neighborhoods. All of the houses are on wells. If the injection well fails, so goes their water.
The Carbon Combustion Complex is everywhere. It devours people, streams, rivers, farms, forests, and mountains. It scours the earth from Llagos, Nigeria to the coal fields of Montana and Australia, from the Athabasca tar sands of Alberta to Ecuador’s rainforests, from the Tennessee Valley Authority to the wells of Dimock. It eats all we hold sacred. But by recognizing what we do hold sacred, we can do better.
Grant Township’s people passed a Community and Environmental Bill of Rights that banned the injection well. But PGE sued, saying that the corporation had a “right” to inject wastewater into the Township. They also claimed the township had “no constitutional right to local self-government” or freedom from harms associated with oil and gas production. A judge decided in PGE’s favor. Such is the power of the Carbon Combustion Complex. Such is the respect for precaution and community and environmental health in our commonwealth.
So the township’s people voted to for a home rule charter. The Community and Environmental Legal Defense Fund has said, “Although a recent ruling in mid-October invalidated a portion of the Ordinance, the people of Grant Township have now reinstated the ban that the judge overturned. Transformation of the community into a home rule Township now invalidates most of that court ruling.” But that may not stop PGE either.
Now the township has legalized civil disobedience. Yes! Magazine reports that two weeks ago, they passed a law protecting their “residents from arrest if they protest Pennsylvania General Energy Company’s (PGE) creation of an injection well.” The story continues, quoting Township Supervisor Stacy Long, “We’re doing it to safeguard the residents and protect as many people as possible.”
They know that people, home, and land are truly sacred. As I’ve written before, “How I live here is my legacy. My legacy is this place.” Stacy and the people of Grant Township know this. Their community is everything: the people and “soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land” as Aldo Leopold wrote. They are the place and the place is them. How can we help them?
First, switch your power provider to cleaner renewable energy. More renewable energy means less fracking and less oil and gas wastewater.
Second, press for policies at all levels of government that move us all to a zero carbon economy that protects land, incentivizes renewable energy and smarter agriculture and forestry, and also creates healthier jobs.
Third, let’s thank Stacy Long and Grant Township. John Milton said, “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” I do revere them for their everyday work, work that is awesome. I tried to express that today in an email to Stacy.
Here’s what I wrote (edited to leave out a friend’s personal information):
I find your courage inspiring. As someone who fought for and passed a Community & Environmental Bill of Rights in State College, longtime environment and justice activist, and a current township supervisor my heart sings because of what you’re doing.
Keep fighting. Beauty and love shine above all this ugliness because beautiful loving people show us our best selves.
What about you?