Pembroke, Maine — One May evening, residents packed into a Pembroke meeting room to decide the future of their town. On the agenda: Should Pembroke ban industrial metal mining? The coalition of farmers, environmentalists and retirees who had called the vote wasn’t sure what to expect. Pembroke, a town of fewer than 900, isn’t exactly a liberal stronghold — Donald Trump carried the county twice. But this was not a national election, and the mining threat was not abstract: In 2021, Canadian company Wolfden Resources unveiled plans to mine for silver uphill from the wells residents rely on for water and just 2 miles from the rich estuary of Cobscook Bay. Severine von Tscharner Fleming, one of the leaders of the grassroots effort to stop the mine, puts it this way: In Pembroke, “people are not all in the same part of the political spectrum, but our common ground is literally our common ground.”
Grant Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania - In an extraordinary reversal, last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) revoked a permit for a frack waste injection well in Grant Township. DEP officials cited Grant Township’s Home Rule Charter banning injection wells as grounds for their reversal. Injection wells are toxic sewers for the fracking industry that cause earthquakes, receive radioactive waste, and threaten drinking water and ecosystems. Township residents popularly adopted a Home Rule Charter (local constitution) in 2015 that contains a “Community Bill of Rights.” The Charter bans injection wells as a violation of the rights of those living in the township and recognizes rights of nature.