Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Communities like Grant Township, Penn. are saying "this is not acceptable, it’s not sustainable, it’s not democratic, and it’s going to change." (Photo: Public Herald/cc/flickr)

Communities like Grant Township, Penn. are saying "this is not acceptable, it’s not sustainable, it’s not democratic, and it’s going to change." (Photo: Public Herald/cc/flickr)

No Longer Willing to be Bullied and Fracked, How One Pennsylvania Town Fought Back

"They are mobilizing against a system of law that empowers corporations over communities, and empowers government to preempt communities from protecting their air and water.'

Lauren McCauley

In defiance of a corporate lawsuit over a proposed fracking wastewater injection well, the citizens of Grant Township, Pennsylvania on Tuesday evening adopted the country’s first municipal charter establishing a local bill of rights—a document which codifies environmental and democratic rights, and bans such drilling activity as a violation of that pact. 

"The people of Grant Township spoke loud and clear: They have rights, and they will protect those rights," said Chad Nicholson of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), who served as a consultant to the commission that drafted the charter.

Grant Township initially adopted a Community Bill of Rights in June 2014 in an effort to halt the drilling project but was overruled when a court sided with Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA), which argued that the rights of the fossil fuel companies trumped those of the citizens.

CELDF explains: "In its lawsuit, PGE claimed that it had a 'right' to inject wastewater into the Township. PIOGA has also declared that there is 'no constitutional right to local self-government' or to be free from the harms associated with oil and gas production."

However, Tuesday's vote, which called for a "transformation of the community into a home rule Township," now invalidates most of that court ruling, according to CELDF.

Local efforts to prohibit extraction activities, such as fracking, over concerns of its impact on air and drinking water quality have faced fierce resistance from both drilling companies and state governments. In Denton, Texas, for example, a community fracking ban was overturned after the state government passed a law barring such ordinances.

This has forced grassroots groups to devise increasingly creative solutions in order to maintain sovereignty in the face of what campaigners say are deep pocketed—and politically connected—corporate interests.

Nicholson notes that close to 200 communities across the U.S. have advanced some form of community rights, though many are amendments to existing charters. The Grant Township Bill of Rights is the first written entirely on the basis of asserting and protecting "the right to clean air and water, the right to be taxed fairly, and the right to local community self-government."

"This isn’t David versus Goliath," he added. "This isn’t just one community standing up to say 'no.' Grant Township is joining with communities across the country who are standing up collectively and saying to government and corporations, 'We’re no longer willing to be fracked, poisoned, and polluted.' They are mobilizing against a system of law that empowers corporations over communities, and empowers government to preempt communities from protecting their air and water. Communities are saying this is not acceptable, it’s not sustainable, it’s not democratic, and it’s going to change." 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Entirely Reckless': Critics Blast EU Plan to Boost Gas Infrastructure

"Deepening its own dependence on volatile fossil fuels" in response to Russia's attack on Ukraine, said one campaigner, "is the last thing Europe should be doing."

Jessica Corbett ·


Sanders Applauds Denton, Texas for Passing 100th Local Resolution Backing Medicare for All

"The way we will pass Medicare for All," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, "is by continuing to build a strong grassroots movement that is prepared to take on the big money interests."

Jake Johnson ·


House Progressives Urge Executive Action From Biden on Baby Formula 'Emergency'

"We have an infant hunger crisis looming," said Rep. Ayanna Pressley, "and a whole of government response is required."

Kenny Stancil ·


Plan to Discharge Fukushima Water Into Pacific Gets OK From Regulators

The discharge could release a number of radioactive isotopes into the Pacific Ocean, critics say.

Julia Conley ·


Stockholm Institute Says World Is at a 'Boiling Point' as Climate Crisis and War Rage

"The natural systems that support life on Earth have been breached, and the human systems remain plagued by inequalities."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo