PA Township Sued to Allow Injection Wells for Fracking Fluids

The Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association has filed a lawsuit against Columbus Township in Warren County, PA challenging an ordinance that prohibits disposal of fracking fluids in the township. The fracking fluid ban was passed after the federal EPA approved permits for two underground injection wells to be operated within the township.

A Warren County community’s attempt to keep Marcellus shale drillers from dumping their wastes within its borders has drawn a federal legal challenge by a gas industry group.

The Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, based in Marshall, claims in an Erie federal court filing that Columbus Township’s ordinance prohibiting the dumping of toxic liquids that were not generated inside the township violates the Constitution`s interstate commerce clause.

The township passed the ordinance in August and amended it on Sept. 13. The ordinances are a response to the Environmental Protection Agency approving permits for two underground injection wells that Bear Lake Properties LLC of Pine wants to use to dispose of brine and other fluids from Marcellus shale well drilling and fracking.

"The distinction made by the ordinances between liquid waste generated within the township and such waste generated outside of the township is arbitrary and does not serve any legitimate relationship to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the township," the association says in its lawsuit.

David Goodwill, chairman of the township’s board of supervisors, said Columbus has a lot of 20- to 30-year-old wells that the gas industry wants to use for disposal even though there’s very little Marcellus shale drilling near the township. The industry should be required to dispose of the waste where it creates it, he said.

"We don’t want our township to be a dumping site for the whole state of Pennsylvania," he said.*

*Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Sep 19, 2011) – Gas industry group sues Warren County township over anti-dumping ordinance