Cecil supervisors drilled by Range attorney

March 5, 2013

CECIL – The gloves were definitely off Monday night when Range Resources attorney Blaine A. Lucas addressed Cecil Township supervisors.

But, by night’s end, the two sides calmed down and agreed to try and have a more amicable relationship.

The township’s relationship with Range has been tense for some time because of various issues, including lawsuits Range filed against the township’s oil and gas zoning ordinance.

On Dec. 6, the two held a workshop meeting to improve their relationship, after Range canceled a previous meeting when state Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, posted information about it on his Facebook page. Range was concerned a large turnout would disrupt the discussion.

Lucas said he was now coming before supervisors about the township’s Jan. 2 letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection regarding the Worstell Impoundment on Swihart Road. The letter, which was submitted for the township by attorney William R. Miller, contends Range failed to obtain proper approvals for the original use and construction of the impoundment and never provided the township with plans for it.

“Cecil Township understands that Range Resources originally constructed the Worstell Impoundment to serve gas wells on two well pads located beside the impoundment, but that Range Resources now desires to expand their use to serve wells located on other property and for general wastewater storage,” the letter reads.

Miller also wrote, “Cecil Township did not issue a permit for the original use, and Range Resources has failed to apply for approval to expand the use.”

Supervisor Tom Casciola said the township did not independently contact DEP but instead was asked by the agency to express concerns about Range’s intentions for the impoundment.

“Why didn’t you just call and ask us?” Lucas stated. “The township has done nothing but stonewall our efforts.”

Lucas also questioned Supervisor Andy Schrader’s recent statements at a Robinson Township board of supervisors’ meeting in which he reportedly said Range could not be trusted.

In response to the township’s letter to the DEP, Lucas said Range filed a request with the state’s Office of Open Records asking the township to turn over documents relating to any discussion regarding the matter and the hiring of Miller as legal counsel.

“You won’t find it in any meeting minutes. I looked,” Lucas said. “You, as a board, are running amok.”

Supervisor Elizabeth Cowden said she did not know about Miller’s hiring but she did know that it wasn’t done at an open meeting.

“I asked the board to sit down and talk with Range,” said Cowden.

At times during the lengthy discussion, conversation became heated between the supervisors and Lucas.

It was Supervisor Michael Debbis, board chairman, who seemed to calm the storm by stating that the township wants an open dialogue with Range and would rather work with them than fight them. Lucas said Range would like that also.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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