Stacy Long, on her property in Grant Township (right), has been fighting to stop her town from being used as a toxic waste dump. Mike Belleme for Rolling Stone
If you expect only good things from the EPA, here's something unsettling: apparently they issue permits to energy exploration companies like Pennsylvania General Energy to "construct and operate" injection wells -- you know, those "wells" (funny use of the word, in this case) of fracking wastewater.
From the article in Rolling Stone: "Essentially, [Judy] Wanchisn [a retired elementary-school teacher from the area] learned, the ground beneath her would be used as a vast toxic-waste storage locker. PGE planned to inject 42,000 gallons of fracking wastewater a day into a layer of rock 7,500 feet beneath the ground, where it was to remain for eternity. The pumping would continue 24 hours a day, every day, for half a generation or more – Wanchisn's teenage grandchildren could be married with children, and PGE would still be injecting fracking waste."
Here's an excellent example of why we as voters need to pay attention to the scheduling of -- and attend -- public hearings. Start local, people! Here's what the township ended up doing:
"But as construction on the injection well neared, Wanchisn and the other Grant Township residents began to wonder why they had to accept the EPA's ruling at all. With the help of outside advocates, the small community landed upon a radical strategy: It adopted an ordinance that granted residents the right to local self-government, essentially seizing the power to bypass the EPA. According to the new laws of their renegade township, not only could humans defend themselves against PGE, but so too could the streams, the salamanders, the hemlock trees, the very soil underground. As outrageous as it might seem, the move thrust Grant Township onto the front line of a new environmental movement: It's the battle to grant legal rights to nature. And amazingly, it appears to be working."
The organization that came to the aid of Grant Township is called the Community-Environmental Legal Defense Fund. Its co-founder, Thomas Linzey, decided natural objects should have legal rights. If corporations can, I ask you, why shouldn't forests, oceans, rivers, and indeed, the natural environment as a whole?
Way to go, CELDF!