CECIL – Cecil Township supervisors and Range Resources called Thursday’s workshop meeting, held to improve their working relationship, a success.
“It was good,” said board chairman Mike Debbis. “We opened up a new line of communication, and that was my goal coming into this meeting.”
In recent months, the relationship between the township and the Southpointe-based gas drilling company has deteriorated because of issues including a lawsuit Range filed against the township’s oil and gas zoning ordinance.
A Nov. 8 meeting scheduled between the two parties was canceled by Range Resources after state Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, posted information about the meeting on his Facebook page. Range was concerned a large turnout would disrupt the discussion.
On Thursday, the 1 1/2-hour long workshop remained civil, and Range Resources answered questions from residents at the end of the meeting.
Range Resources declined to discuss the ordinance and Act 13 legislation, both of which will be addressed at a later time, according to Range spokseman Jim Cannon.
Instead, Supervisor Andrew Schrader asked several questions about issues including seismic testing, well water safety, the township’s impact fee and a water retention pond. Schrader also addressed lawsuits filed by Range Resources against the township.
“It seems like you take us to court over every little thing,” said Schrader.
When Range Resources indicated it’s possible drilling might not take place in 2013, some residents asked the company to make it clear to the public any delay is a result of market conditions, not the strained relationship between the township and Range.
“You’re saying you’re not drilling in Cecil until probably the end of 2013 into 2014. Can you make it clear that the reason is not because Cecil is difficult to work with, but that, in fact, for your plans, that’s what is best for Range?” said resident Cindy Fisher. “Because I sit at these meetings where angry residents come in and say, ‘Cecil supervisors are difficult, we’re going to lose our leases, we’re going to hold you personally responsible for Range going somewhere else,’ but we know you’re not going somewhere else. We know that you can’t pick up Marcellus Shale. We’re here; you have to work with us. It wouldn’t hurt to clarify that the reason you’re not drilling in Cecil until 2014 is not because Cecil is difficult to work with.”
Range Resources planning manager Tony Gaudlip agreed the opportunity in Southwestern Pennsylvania “is immense.”
“I live and breathe this every day. It’s so complex in Pennsylvania compared to anywhere else in the world. Cecil is a part of that. It’s amazing the opportunity that exists,” said Gaudlip. “You’re right. We need to work together.”