Letter from Grant Township Supervisors Sent to All 2700 Municipalities in Pennsylvania

DEP Cites Local Ordinance to Revoke PGE Injection Well Permit

This is the first time in PA history, that we are aware of, where a locally-crafted law has been cited as the reason a PA state agency has denied a permit.

Grant Township Supervisors

Dear Fellow Municipal Officials,

We are the Board of Supervisors in Grant Township, Indiana County. We recently received good news that you might be interested in hearing.

You may have heard about our fight against a hazardous and radioactive frack waste injection well. It’s trying to be forced into our Township, against our will and the will of our residents. Our fight gets regular local news coverage, but has also received national and even global attention. We’ve been sued in federal court by the industry. We’ve been sued in state court by our own PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Yep, you read that right: our DEP is suing us for trying to protect the environment.

It’s a lot for us to take on. We’re a small rural township of 700 people. But we’ve continued to uphold our oaths to protect the health and safety of our community. We’ve had good support along the way, from hundreds of individuals, as well as nonprofits which include the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, and the PA Community Rights Network.

A few weeks ago, something major happened: the PA DEP reversed course, and rescinded the injection well permit they had issued to allow the frack waste dumping. The DEP cited our local, municipal law as good law to deny the permit. This is the first time in PA history, that we are aware of, where a locally-crafted law has been cited as the reason a PA state agency has denied a permit. It’s huge news for us.

And could also be huge news for you. We are sending this letter to point out that as an elected, you know how often your hands are tied when it comes to making local laws that protect your community, keeping in mind your community’s special circumstances. Harrisburg is fantastic at making cookie-cutter laws that don’t look out for the best interests of most PA communities.

There is a window of opportunity to take advantage of the DEP’s decision to uphold our local law. The more communities that stand up to return power to our municipalities, the more power we will have to do what’s right for all of us, as the elected officials who are sworn to protect the constituents who elected us.

For more information for how you can help, and/or do this in your community, please contact us at:

GRANT TOWNSHIP 
Board of Supervisors
100 East Run Road
Marion Center, PA 15759
724-254-1530 
swl@catsupgraphics.com

Jon Perry, Chairman, Grant Township Board of Supervisors
Stacy Long , Vice-Chair
Ron Jarvie, Supervisor


Letter from Pennsylvania Community Rights Network

Dear Municipal Officials,

We have been proud to support Grant Township during their courageous effort to protect their community. We, as members of the PA Community Rights Network, have also heard from dozens of other municipalities across the state that want more power to deal with local issues than they currently have.

Have you been told by your solicitor that you were ‘preempted’ or prohibited by state laws from protecting your constituents? Have you been threatened by an industry that you believe would be detrimental to your community’s health and safety?

A constitutional amendment was introduced into the PA House in 2019 that would give municipalities, like Grant Township, the powers they need to protect their constituents. The text for that amendment is on the reverse side of this letter.

For more information on the amendment, and/or to support Grant Township, please contact us at:

Pennsylvania Community Rights Network
info@pacommunityrights.org
207-541-3649


HOUSE BILL 1813

INTRODUCED BY OTTEN, SCHLOSSBERG AND KENYATTA, SEPTEMBER 17, 2019

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in declaration of rights, providing for right to local self-government.

The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby resolves as follows:

Section 1. The following amendment to the Constitution of Pennsylvania isproposed in accordance with Article XI: That Article I be amended by adding a section to read:

§ 29. Right to local self-government

(a) As all political power is inherent in the people and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness, the people have an inherent and inalienable right to local self- government.

(b) The right to local self-government includes, without limitation, the power to enact local laws:

(1) protecting health, safety and welfare by establishing the rights of people, their communities and nature and by securing those rights using prohibitions and other means; and

(2) establishing, defining, altering or eliminating the rights, powers and duties of corporations and other business entities operating or seeking to operate in the community, to prevent infringement of locally enacted rights and violation of the prohibitions and other means by which those rights are secured.

(c) Local laws adopted pursuant to subsection (b) shall not be subject to preemption by international, Federal or State laws, provided that a local law does not:

(1) infringe or restrict fundamental rights of individuals, their communities or nature secured by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of Pennsylvania or international law; or
(2) minimize protections for health, safety and welfare provided by international, Federal and State law.

(d) All provisions of this section are self-executing and severable.

DEP Program Helps 20 Pennsylvania Communities Develop Local Climate Action Plans

Harrisburg, PA – Twenty municipalities are developing plans to manage the risks of climate change impacts in their communities, using tools and expertise provided by the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) new Local Climate Action Assistance Program.

The 2020 Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment, produced for DEP by the Penn State University Environment and Natural Resources Institute, shows the state has experienced a nearly 2° F rise in average temperature, an approximately 10 percent increase in average annual rainfall, and increased frequency of extreme precipitation since 1901. Based on 2000 data, it’s projected that every county will continue to get warmer and wetter by mid-century, with average rainfall continuing to increase 8 to 12 percent, particularly in winter and spring, while average temperature rises 4.9° F.

“Many Pennsylvania communities have seen significant damage to their homes, businesses, and infrastructure from extreme flooding in recent years,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We developed an innovative program that enables municipal leaders to proactively address flooding and other climate change impacts, by providing them with personnel and technical training and data to establish local climate action plans.”

Governor Tom Wolf has identified climate change as the most critical environmental threat facing the world and in 2019 set a statewide goal to lower greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Municipal leaders entered the Local Climate Action Assistance Program last fall and were teamed up with college students for assistance in developing plan materials. Using funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, DEP enlisted the national nonprofit ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability to provide the teams with training and one-on-one technical assistance.

The municipal/student teams produced greenhouse gas emissions inventories for local governments, calculating current emission levels from sectors such as industrial, residential, commercial, solid waste, and transportation. 

They reviewed the strategy recommendations in DEP’s 2018 Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan and identified local climate hazards, such as extreme rainfall and heat days. The teams conducted public meetings and online surveys to engage community members in the climate action planning process.

Putting all this information together, each team is now using a template to draft a local climate action plan to reduce emissions and manage impacts and will share the draft plan with community residents and public officials.

“As we join in celebrating Earth Day with a focus on climate action, we commend the local leaders who are working to protect their communities by adapting to changes already occurring and lessening future risk,” said Secretary McDonnell.

The following municipalities participated in the 2019-2020 Local Climate Action Assistance Program: 

  • Etna, Forest Hills, Millvale, Munhall, Sharpsburg, and West Homestead Boroughs and Elizabeth Township in Allegheny County
  • City of Reading in Berks County
  • Bellefonte Borough and Centre Region Council of Governments in Centre County 
  • Caln Township in Chester County
  • Chester County
  • Carlisle Borough in Cumberland County
  • Derry Township in Dauphin County
  • Erie County
  • Indiana Borough in Indiana County
  • Jermyn Borough in Lackawanna County
  • Armstrong Township in Lycoming County
  • Narberth Borough in Montgomery County
  • City of York in York County

Students from Allegheny College, Dickinson College, Drexel University, Lebanon Valley College, Millersville University, Muhlenberg College, Penn State University, Shippensburg University, Susquehanna University, Temple University, University of Pittsburgh, and Wilkes University participated in the program, assisting municipalities through an online internship format. 

Pending funding availability, DEP plans to offer the Local Climate Action Assistance Program for another 20 municipalities beginning in July 2020. Local governments who are interested in participating should contact Heidi Kunka in the Energy Programs Office at hkunka@pa.gov