JAMES CITY, PA. – A judge’s recent ruling has resulted in a court victory for a natural gas company that wants to inject wastewater back into the ground.

The proposed injection well in Highland Township, Elk County, has resulted in a five-year long battle between the company, Seneca Resources Corporation and the residents who live there.

Seneca Resources Corporation is the exploration and production segment of National Fuel Gas Company, headquartered in Houston, Texas. Seneca explores for, develops and produces natural gas and oil reserves in California, Kansas and the Appalachian Region including the Marcellus and Utica.

In efforts to stop the injection well, the township used a Home Rule Charter to pass laws banning the operation. The charter was voted in by township residents in Nov. 2016.

Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter issued a decision invalidating provisions of Highland Township’s Home Rule Charter.

Baxter also denied intervention to three local parties working to protect the community from frac waste: the municipal Water Authority, the local nonprofit group Citizen’s Advocating a Clean Healthy Environment (CACHE), and the Crystal Spring Ecosystem.

Seneca Resources Corporation said the water is like seawater, but with a much higher concentration of salt.

“Seneca Resources has always maintained the opinion that certain sections of Highland Township’s Home Rule Charter were unconstitutional and we are pleased with Judge Baxter’s decision,” a statement from the company said.

Seneca said if all approvals go through on time, the well could be active by the end of this year.

In March the Pennsylvania DEP sued Highland Township over the injection well debate.

From WJAC – March 30th 2017

JAMES CITY – A several year battle over an injection well in Elk County has resulted in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issuing a permit for the well and suing the township.

DEP officials announced Monday that they have approved the permit submitted by Seneca Resources for the well after reviewing the case for nearly two years.

“After a thorough review, DEP determined that both applications meet all regulations, are sufficient to protect surface water and water supplies, and would be abate pollution,” said acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell in a statement.

“The PA DEP announced its approval of Seneca’s permit application for its Class II-D well in Highland Township. This project began in earnest in 2012 and has been subject to lengthy and intense scrutiny by all interested parties. As the EPA did before it, PA DEP carefully considered Seneca’s application and confirmed through its approval that the project met all lawful regulations. Seneca looks forward to implementing this project,” said Seneca Resources in a statement.

In addition to the permit approval, DEP is suing Highland Township and its supervisors over provision in its home rule charter that was adopted by the citizens of the township in November of 2016.

According to the lawsuit, the language of that charter reads, “It shall be unlawful within Highland Township for any corporation or government to engage in the depositing of waste from oil and gas extraction.”

DEP officials are argued that portion of the charter is “invalid,” as it violates state gas and oil policies.

Representatives with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund aren’t buying that argument.

“Our state agencies, tasked with “environmental protection,” are legalizing harmful activities by issuing permits to corporations with histories of violations. Equally egregious, those state agencies are now suing communities who dare to stand up to unjust laws that privilege corporate interests above the communities’ health and safety,” CELDF said through a statement.

Discussions for the well were first brought to light in 2012.

Between 2012 and Monday’s lawsuit, both sides have filed petitions and suits claiming they both have are in the right on their stance on the injection well.

The DEP has also issued a permit and sued Grant Township, of Indiana County, over a similar injection well.


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