I was very troubled to read that Range Resources wants to sue Robinson Township in order to push forward the drilling of two new well pads.
The reality of the matter is that Range’s documents included sound studies that showed that the planned well pads exceeded Robinson Township’s noise ordinances. There were also other questions that the township supervisors, as well as a number of residents, had about the projects. However, Range did not have a representative at the hearings held on Jan. 14, and so the questions remained unanswered.
Strangely, Range Resources’ attorney, Shawn Gallagher, appeared prior to the meeting and sat among the residents, but stayed for only a few minutes then left before the hearing about the well pads even began.
As someone who did stay for the entirety of the Robinson Township hearings, I would have to say that the township supervisors proceeded in a very responsible way, raising the questions and issues that came up as they reviewed Range’s documents, and even asking if there were any Range representatives present to answer the questions. The room was silent. Even any leaseholders who might have been there with interests in the projects also remained silent. The only people in the audience who spoke were those who had concerns about the proposed well pads, concerns about truck traffic, failure of the project to adhere to existing noise ordinances, air quality in the surrounding areas, and the like.
Robinson Township’s supervisors acted in exemplary fashion throughout, and were very diligent in carrying out their responsibilities as elected officials. Range Resources, however, in apparent disregard for the process, failed to even appear either to advocate for their own interests or to respond to questions raised by the supervisors or area residents. It is entirely likely that if Range had deigned to attend this hearing, that the questions could have been answered, the concerns could have been resolved, and the project could have gone on without difficulty. Recognize that Robinson Township already has active Range sites within it, indicating that Robinson Township supervisors have a history of approving well pads which were in compliance with local ordinances, and for which full information was provided.
Instead, Range, as part of an apparent and long-standing pattern of disregard and disrespect for local government bodies, failed to attend the hearing, and emailed their comments about the meeting �– a meeting they did not even attend – to the Observer-Reporter. It would appear that instead of wanting to avoid a lawsuit, Range was actually trying to find an excuse to file a lawsuit. By providing the township with incomplete information and by providing sound studies that indicated that the projects were in violation of local ordinances, and then by failing to attend the meeting and respond to questions, it appears that Range knew that the Robinson Township supervisors, in the responsible execution of their duties, would not approve the pads without the appropriate questions answered. This then raises the question: Is this situation truly about the two well pads, or is it about attempting to punish a local governing body for being among the group of townships that took legal action in opposition to Act 13?