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Cecil Township, gas driller Range Resources Corp. aim to clear air

| Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Officials from Cecil and gas driller Range Resources Corp. are hoping a Thursday night meeting could be the beginning of a new relationship.

Range officials met with township officials for what they called an annual update on natural gas drilling in the Washington County community. Officials and residents on both sides of the gas drilling debate said they were hoping it could be clear-the-air talks for a municipality and a company that have been locked in court battles during the past year.

“I think all of us here got used to doing things a certain way, through the attorneys, for good or bad,” said Jim Cannon, who handles government relations for Range, the most active driller in Cecil. “So now it's time to get away from that.”

Township supervisors want better contacts with the company, they said.

Supervisor Andy Schrader said he was still upset by past incidents, claiming Range officials put a water impoundment in the township without its approval and started seismic testing without notice.

“I don't want these problems repeated,” Schrader said after the meeting, adding the company would have to prove itself through its actions. “Only time will tell. It's all about trust.”

Two court cases remain. One is with Range's business partner, MarkWest Energy Partners LP, over a compressor station, Cecil officials said. The other is the Act 13 Supreme Court case in which the township joined others suing the state over new oil and gas rules it passed to help the drilling industry.

The relationship between the township and the company has been a high-profile conflict, especially last month when Range canceled the first scheduled meeting. State Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, advertised the public meeting, upsetting Range officials.

White sat in the back for this meeting, which drew about 80 people to the hourlong session.

The cordiality and openness of both township and Range officials, who took questions at the end, is a good sign, said Anna Coen, a Cecil resident since 1969.

“As long as it's responsible drilling, I don't have a problem with it. But we've had a lot of contention and misrepresentation here, so tonight I think was a good thing,” Coen said.

“I want to see everyone getting along and our township growing. I don't want to see all this infighting because it doesn't solve anything.”

Timothy Puko is a staff writer forTrib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or tpuko@tribweb.com.

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