A federal court has ordered a small township in southwest Pennsylvania to pay more than $100,000 in legal fees after its multi-year fight to block an underground injection well failed.
Pennsylvania General Energy Co. LLC (PGE) requested a small portion of the $600,000 in legal costs it incurred to fight a challenge by Grant Township in Indiana County. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania found that request reasonable, despite pleas from the township that the legal costs could bankrupt it. Grant has a population of slightly more than 700.
An ordinance passed by the town to ban oil and gas wastewater disposal wells was struck down by the court in 2015 after PGE filed a lawsuit.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) later issued a permit to PGE for the injection well, which the township is challenging in a state appellate court. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has regulatory primacy over all types of injection wells in Pennsylvania, but the company still needed a permit from the state to operate the well.
U.S. District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter ordered Grant to pay PGE $100,000 in attorney fees and nearly $3,000 in other legal costs.