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Report: DEP drops $9 million penalty against Range Resources in Lycoming case

| Saturday, May 21, 2016, 8:03 p.m.

WILLIAMSPORT — A Texas natural gas driller no longer is facing a nearly $9 million civil penalty from the state Department of Environmental Protection for alleged violations at a well in eastern Lycoming County.

The DEP on May 6 notified Range Resources-Appalachia it no longer would pursue an $8.957 million fine for alleged violations related to the gas well on the property of Lewis Harman outside Hughesville.

Range then withdrew the appeal before the Environmental Hearing Board and that board Monday formally dismissed it.

Attempts Saturday to learn why DEP decided not to pursue the civil penalty were unsuccessful.

Range has no comment, spokesman Matt Pitzarella said, but he added the company continues “to work cooperatively with DEP to investigate and evaluate this matter.”

It was one of two appeals Range had pending before the board stemming from DEP's allegations about the Harman well.

Still pending is one that accuses Range of violating the Clean Streams Law and the Oil and Gas Act.

The DEP said stray gas migration from the Harman well is the cause of high levels of methane in five water wells in Green Valley below. It wants Range to submit and implement a remedial plan for the well.

According to a status report filed April 22, the parties continue to discuss potential frameworks to resolve the appeal.

Range, headquartered in Fort Worth, claims DEP has failed to identify any violations associated with the Harman well.

Range and Harman claim naturally forming methane existed before the well was drilled in 2011.

Range has given the DEP a complete isotopic analysis that it claims proves what is in the well water did not come from the gas well.

Range has provided purification systems to five residents in Green Valley, explaining it acts first and investigates later when a situation with water develops.

The company also had challenged actions the DEP wanted taken at the same well including flaring.

It withdrew that appeal in February after the DEP told the driller it either had addressed them completely or they were rendered moot.

No gas has been extracted from the well, which is on an 8-acre site, because it is not connected to a pipeline.

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