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Federal Judge shuts down Pa. township’s O&G ban

Looks like a Grant Township in Pennsylvania won’t be able to put the kibosh on oil and gas operations anytime soon.

According to a report from Pittsburgh Business Journal, the case stems from a dispute that started last August between Warren-based Pennsylvania General Energy Co. and the Indiana Township. PGE had filed for federal and state permits for an injection well and was trumped by Grant’s community Bill of Rights ordinance, which outlawed oil and gas waste disposal within city limits.

PGE sued, arguing that the law violated federal and state laws—an accusation with which U.S. District Court Judge Susan Paradise Baxter agreed.

“Althought Defendant wishes it were not so, the development of oil and gas (which necessarily includes the management of waste materials generated at a well site) is a legitimate business activity and land use within Pennsylvania,” she wrote in an opinion filed Wednesday.

PGE’s lead attorney Kevin Garber said the company is “very pleased” with Judge Baxter’s decision.

“…It was certainly helpful to the industry—which now know that townships have to draw their authority based on state law provisions.”

Opposition to the injection well, however, are unlikley to end with the case. A statement from Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund said communities like Grant Township are cooperating with one another to fight for their right to impose regulations on drilling.

“Yesterday’s ruling, however unjust, will help to reveal how the current system works, and may serve as a catalyst for the larger statewide change that is needed to protect our communities from corporate harms.”

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