Monday, September 21, 2009

Southwest Pennsylvania township hopes third time is the charm for anti-mining efforts

A federal judge has ruled that two Blaine Township, Pa., ordinances prohibiting mining are invalid, after two mining companies, Penn Ridge Coal LLC and Allegheny Pittsburgh Coal Co. sued the municipality west of Pittsburgh. Chief U.S. District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose said the ordinances were "the very definition of arbitrary and unreasonable." One prohibited a company from mining if it had more than three violations in 20 years; another prohibited mining altogether. (Read more)

The township's citizens will vote on a third mining ordinance in November. It would give residents the right to "prohibit environmentally unsustainable mining," Barbara S. Miller of the Washington County Observer-Reporter reports. The policy would include "the right to establish policies on corporate disclosure, toxic trespass, sustainable agriculture, sustainable water, sustainable energy and enforcing the rights of nature."

Fred Cramer, chairman of the Blaine Home Rule Study Commission, told Miller, "I think it's about the rights of people and the residents of the community and who chooses their quality of life." George Ellis, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Coal Association, countered, "They've already enacted two ordinances that ban mining, and there are three companies challenging them in federal district court. I didn't know about this being on the home-rule charter. We feel their ordinances are clearly unconstitutional." (Read more)

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