Waterkeeper Alliance Welcomes Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium

New Affiliate to Protect Local Water

The world’s largest and fastest growing nonprofit solely focused on clean water, the Waterkeeper Alliance, has welcomed the Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium as a new Waterkeeper Affiliate.

In its role of fighting for clean water worldwide, the Waterkeeper Alliance connects and mobilizes over 300 Waterkeeper groups. As chair of the Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium, local resident and educator Melanie Smith will lead the group’s work to protect and preserve the entirety of the Conewango Creek watershed by combining firsthand knowledge of the waterway with an unwavering commitment to the community’s rights to clean water and environmental justice. 

“The Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium will have an incredibly important job,” said Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “Waterkeeper Affiliates defend their communities against anyone who threatens their right to clean water, from law-breaking polluters to irresponsible government officials. Until our public agencies have the means necessary to protect us from polluters, and the will to enforce the law, there will always be a great need for people like the Consortium to fight for our right to clean water.” 

The Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium will be an advocate for Conewango Creek, its lakes and its tributaries, working to protect and restore water quality through community action and enforcement. Smith, chair of the group, stated: “Our Waterkeeper Affiliate’s aim is to provide strong advocacy that will result in clean water for all citizens, whether they rely on it for drinking or recreation and to maintain the ecological integrity of the waterways within the Conewango Creek watershed.”

The Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium is sponsored by the Conewango Creek Watershed Association. The Consortium will work on water-related issues affecting the water bodies included in the Conewango Creek watershed.  Those water bodies include Chautauqua, Cassadaga and Bear Lakes, the Chadakoin River, and Cassadaga Creek in New York, as well as all of the headwaters and the main stem of Conewango Creek. A main goal of the Consortium is to be the voice of protection for the region’s water, both surface and ground, and the creatures who depend on it. This will be achieved utilizing research-based materials which will guarantee factual information to the public. The Consortium will also provide a means for the public to report citizen science or improper practices. Visit the Consortium’s website at cccwaters.org for more information and to learn how to get involved.

Waterkeeper Alliance is a global movement uniting Waterkeeper Organizations and Affiliates around the world, focusing citizen action on issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change. Waterkeepers patrol and protect over 2.5 million square miles of rivers, lakes and coastlines in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. For more information about the global organization please visit: www.waterkeeper.org

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.