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August 13, 2014

Local Fracking Waste Ban Faces Constitutional Challenge

On August 8, 2014, Pennsylvania General Energy Co. LLC filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Pennsylvania challenging the constitutionality of a local ordinance banning the disposal of oil and gas waste.  According to the Complaint, Grant Township’s Community Bill of Rights ordinance prohibits any corporation or government from disposing of wastes from oil and gas extraction, and invalidates any federal, state, or local approval issued that would allow the disposal of oil and gas waste.  A corporation that violates or seeks to violate the ordinance would be stripped of its status as a “person,” including the power to challenge the ordinance.  The Company states that the ordinance precludes it from legally converting and using a former deep gas well as an underground injection well for the disposal of produced fluids.  The Company’s state and federal permits are pending.

Grant Energy argues that the ordinance eliminates the legal status of corporations as “persons” and strips them of their constitutional rights.  According to the Complaint, the ordinance treats corporations differently from individuals in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.  The Company also argues that the ordinance violates the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments for the redress of grievances and due process, and is preempted by state law, among other challenges.  The case is Pennsylvania General Energy Co. LLC v. Grant Township, No. 14-00209 (W.D. Pa.).

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