Even though Range Resources’ regional ofice is in Cecil Township, the relationship between the energy company and the township has been uneasy at best, and contentious at worst.
And their rapport undoubtedly became even more wary and mistrustful last week when Range abruptly backed out of a workshop meeting that had been scheduled to, believe it or not, try to iron out their differences.
The reason? State Rep. Jesse White, who hails from Cecil and takes a certain glee in yanking Range Resources’ chain, posted on his Facebook page that the meeting was going to happen. Company officials apparently believed that White was assembling a mob of anti-drilling activists to crash the meeting and antagonize them. White countered that the meeting was duly advertised and public knowledge, and he was merely putting it on his Facebook page as a way to keep his constituents in the loop.
Range officials have said they would like to reschedule, but they apparently don’t want White to attend or, if he does, they want him to remain silent.
While we understand Range’s concerns about participating in a meeting that could degenerate into a food fight – and Cecil Township has seen a few of those in recent years – they shouldn’t have backed out of the meeting. And nor should they have any say on who will attend and who will speak.
Eventually, Cecil and Range will have to iron out their differences. The natural gas industry is not going anywhere, and township officials will continue to have the power to say where well pads can go, particularly if the state Supreme Court upholds a lower-court decision that the local zoning provisions of Act 13, the state’s oil and gas drilling law, are unconstitutional.
Considering he won another two-year term in the state House of Representatives last week without any opposition, Range probably shouldn’t bet on White shuffling off the scene anytime soon. And White should realize Range is here to stay. Eventually, they will have to reach some sort of detente, as well.
Whether it was the result of a misunderstanding or weak knees, this was an opportunity Range should not have walked away from. Rescheduling another meeting promptly would, at least, be one way to help clear the air.