There have been recent stories and letters in the Observer-Reporter related to Range Resources and Robinson Township, and we’d like to set the record straight.
It’s good business to get along with local governments, which is why Range Resources has dedicated staff to work with them. To ensure a successful partnership, we’re ready and willing to listen and adapt accordingly to anything within reason and the law, as it relates to our operations. We have positive relationships with municipalities across the nation, including here. Local townships like Chartiers, Cross Creek, Hopewell and many others have been partners in maximizing the benefits of natural gas development for residents in a manner that protects the well-being and character of their communities.
In Robinson Township, after Range completed the same application process successfully followed just two years ago, the township has chosen to not follow its own ordinance. The information Range submitted in September for the initial application laid out our plans above and beyond what is prescribed by law. In November, supervisor Brian Coppola and township solicitor John Smith, who only recently recused himself and who also is involved in several lawsuits suing gas companies, asked Range to ignore the ordinance and even state law to include providing material the township has no authority to regulate. Regardless of your opinion of the Department of Environmental Protection, it has the legal authority to regulate environmental matters and has received high marks from national groups. Everyone shares the desire to protect the environment, health and safety of our communities.
The more nuanced part of the situation deals with timing and the prescribed timetable in the Municipalities Planning Code. Following the code, Range submitted the material required, followed the legally prescribed course of action, and after having no objections from the public in attendance, legally closed the hearing. The township is now attempting to supersede state and municipal law by asserting only it has the right to close the hearing and potentially drag the process out indefinitely, and chose to continue the process in violation of the law. All the while, solicitor fees spike, impact fee revenues drop, residents lose out on royalties, local workers aren’t working and companies like Range are stripped of our ability to plan in ways that provide the most safety and least disturbance.
Even though Range is not the only company to be blocked from legitimate and legal development by these supervisors and their attorney, legal action is always our last resort. We recognize and appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the community. Of course we want to protect the air, water and environment as much as anyone; we live here too. It’s our desire to enhance our existing relationships with local communities and work in a cooperative manner, just as we do in municipalities across the country.
Cannon is the manager of local government relations for Range Resources.