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Range, Cecil: Lines of Communication Opened Thanks to Workshop

Range Resources officials and the Cecil Township Board of Supervisors met for a workshop Thursday—and both the company and township officials said they were happy with the outcome.

Range Resources spokesman Jim Cannon, flanked by three colleagues, told Cecil Township Board of Supervisors during a more than hour-long work session Thursday that “not so long ago” the Southpointe-based company and the municipality seemed to have a good working relationship.

“Somewhere along the lines, things got haywire,” Cannon told the board, who all sat together at a table in front of a packed crowd in the township meeting room, where company officials later confirmed that the lack of drilling in the township had more to do with economics than any difficulties working with municipal officials.

While “obvious issues” such as the township’s conditional-use ordinance and the outcome of the Act 13 challenge were still on the table, that’s not what the company wanted to discuss, Cannon said.

He was clear about the premise of the meeting: It was to “reset the relationship.”

Cecil board Chairman Mike Debbis—after asking the audience to be respectful, and reminded them no legislative decisions would be made—told Cannon and his colleagues he believed any friction between the township and the Marcellus Shale drilling company seemed to begin when the municipality changed its oil and gas ordinance from one that allowed the activities as a permitted use to one that allowed them as a condition use.

“That kind of seems to be where it fell apart,” the chairman said.

While some questions were asked regarding the township’s ordinance, Cannon on many occasions asked to shift the conversation to any “ancillary issues” that the company might not be aware of that have damaged the relationship between the two entities.

At that point, Debbis noted that township officials have been confronted by Range leaseholders who call them to say that company officials told them there was no drilling in Cecil because officials there were too difficult to deal with.

Cannon said he was unaware of any Range employees telling leaseholders that, and asked the township to provide the company with a list of those individuals so representatives could reach out to them.

Debbis said the township would do so.

“Now we know what direction to go with these people,” he said.

And both Cannon and Debbis agreed: On that and other issues, there needed to be a better line of communication.

Cannon personally offered to give his contact information to anyone at the meeting who might want it.

Then supervisor Frank Ludwin and Debbis also asked about the company’s intentions to drill in the township in 2013—saying that information would allow Cecil officials to better plan which roads it chose to include in its upcoming paving program.

What would be the point of paving a road, Debbis said, only to have industry traffic damage it?

Range officials indicated that while there were no plans to drill in Cecil in 2013, operations could resume in the latter part of 2014.

Supervisor Andy Schrader then asked a series of five questions on everything from Range’s subcontractors, to why the company sued the township on several occasions, to whether or not Range officials would answer questions from the audience.

Range officials agreed, and several residents stood up, posing questions ranging from water testing to air quality to dealings they had previously with the company.

The public comment period lasted for about 40 minutes before the supervisors adjourned.

Reached after the meeting, both Debbis and Cannon said they were happy with its outcome.

“We opened a new line of communication,” Debbis said.

Cannon said, “I thought it was rather endearing.”

Editor's Note: For video of the meeting, click on the attached video, graciously provided by Robert Donnan.

Kittypepper December 09, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Cecil Resident, I don't think we want all the wildcat drillers coming into Cecil to drill, As far as I am concern we have the best driller (Range) in the country wanting to do right by all of us landowners....They have the best engineers and knowledge in the Marcellus Shale drilling despite want other individuals are saying on this blog.....I want safe drilling the same as everyone else. I feel that Range is the only one that has that expertise....
Amanda Gillooly December 09, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Always, Kittypepper! And you're welcome!
Amanda Gillooly December 10, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Cecil Resident - I will check with the township manager, if you'd like me to.
Jason Parks December 10, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Amanda, what happened to your rules of civility? This "prouder american" character has referred to a corporation as "liars", "bullies" and "bottom feeders" with no proof, nothing to back it up, no specifics. And you wonder why all your stories about Range end with "so and so couldn't be reached for comment"... People like that who spend their days online need to do some research. I took two minutes to find the biggest violaters in the state. Guess what--range isn't one of them. In fact the opposite is true. No company is perfect. Duh. But I would rather have a company rated as one of the safest in my backyard instead of someone else.
cecil resident December 10, 2012 at 03:40 PM
The Oberserve-Reporter had an interesting article on the front page a survey was taken by the University of Pittsburgh Center for Social and Urban Research in Washington county and only 10% strongly opposed drilling in Washington County. read the whole article it covers New York State also

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