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Divernan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 06:37 AM
Original message
Range Resources, Township at Odds Over Well Sites
Edited on Wed Apr-06-11 06:46 AM by Divernan
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Range Resources, Mount Pleasant Township at odds over well sites
Driller threatens to pull out
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The state's largest Marcellus Shale drilling company has threatened to discontinue its considerable drilling activities and economic support of businesses in the Washington County township because it says township officials are uncooperative.

A Range spokesman said the township's long-standing refusal to allow the company to temporarily house well foremen and workers in trailer-style bunkhouses on its drill sites prompted the warning, which is contained in one of two letters sent to Mount Pleasant residents by the company earlier this week.

But a township official said the letters, which don't mention the bunkhouse issue, are an attempt to intimidate township leaders as they near a vote later this month on a new "conditional use ordinance" to govern where and how drilling operations may operate in the township. The proposed ordinance, which has taken more than a year to draft, will require prior approval of the township's planning commission and board of supervisors for all new wells.

"We are outraged," said Dencil Bachus, a Mount Pleasant resident and coordinator of a citizens committee that advised the township on the Marcellus ordinance. "This is an effort by Range Resources to divide a community on the eve of a decision on an ordinance that affects them directly. It's an attempt by the company to get what they want rather than operate within the process. It's a divide-and-conquer public relations strategy."

Read more:

No surprise here. Big Frackers have bought off Pennsylvania's state Department of Environmental Protection by paying off the new GOP Governor with $900,000 of campaign donations. In return, the Governor has instructed his Secretary to gut DEP's regulations and hamstring DEP inspectors. They are not allowed to issue a single violation against the gas frackers until the cabinet level DEP secretary has personally reviewed and signed off on them.

Now a local township has the EFFRONTERY AND GALL to issue and/or enforce its own ordinances! Range Resources is SHOCKED, I say SHOCKED! And doing its corporate best to intimidate and scare the small town officials and residents. A major issue for Range Resources is the township's longstanding ordinance forbidding temporary housing. Big Oil/Fracking and Governor Corbett, aka Governor Gasshole, have been lecturing Pennsylvanians that this industry will CREATE JOBS! and bring in BIG BUCKS to local businesses such as hotels, and increase demand for local housing. In fact, Range Resources wants to park "bunk trailers" housing as many as 26 workers right on the well pads. In fact, Marcellus Range drillers are bringing in experienced workers from Texas,Oklahoma and West Virginia - NOT HIRING AND TRAINING UNEMPLOYED PENNSYLVANIANS! Last month there was an explosion at one site, injuring three workers - all of whom were from West Virginia.

If you read the entire article, you will see Range Resources is lying through it's teeth, such as claiming this is the only township wanting to enforce its own conditions, when many municipalities have conditional use requirements in place.
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Divernan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 06:56 AM
Response to Original message
1. Two-faced Range Resources rep to speak on "Civic Responsibility-Where Is The Leadership?
At the 2011 Leadership Conference on April 12th, at California Univ. of PA., (with a keynote speech by Donna Brazile),
Carla Suszkowski, regulatory and environmental manager at Range Resources, will address "Civic Respnsibility: Where Is The Leadership?"

Based on the PG story in the OP, Range Resources is more interested in threatening local govt. leadership and pushing Range Resources "model" regulations than allowing any of those plebian locals control over their own communities. Range Resources asks "Where is the leadership?" so they will know exactly whom to threaten and intimidate.
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sweetapogee Donating Member (449 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 07:16 AM
Response to Original message
2. from the article
Edited on Wed Apr-06-11 07:17 AM by sweetapogee
"If Range wants to pull out, let it pull out," said (twp supervisor) Mr. Grimm, calling the company's bluff."

I personally don't see a problem. The township goes ahead with the regulations, the gas company pulls operations out of town, the citizens are all the more better off because they are now free to take the funds already received from Range and build solar panels and wind farms. I call this responsible local government leadership.

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Divernan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 07:38 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. The township hasn't received any funds.
Only the individual landowners have gotten some money. Since the Governor has made Pennsylvania the only state with this drilling going on which has not imposed an extraction tax, there are no funds to compensate local governments for the damage to local roads from the thousands of truckloads of water hauled over them, or demands for local services - traffic control, firemen, etc.
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sweetapogee Donating Member (449 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 07:46 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. they should
Edited on Wed Apr-06-11 08:00 AM by sweetapogee
vote to go back to the way Gov. Rendell did it as far as getting money that was used (according to the letters from Range) to fix roads and schools. That money is what I'm talking about. Sorry if I wasn't clear on that.

Also, you mention the stress Range puts on the firefighters. Mt. Pleasant has an all volunteer fire service so there is no stress as long as Range makes donations from time to time it's probably a plus for them. I know we are in a simular situation (with respect to fire) and for example last year I filled the sewage plant at Beltzville Lake State Park with about 8000 gallons of water to test repairs made by the contractor and they, the contractor, made a nice donation to us (the fire co) for what took me about 2 hours of my personal time.

On edit: It sounds to me like you want Range to stay?
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Divernan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 08:11 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Absolutely not! I'm for a complete moratorium until
a lot more research has been done on the effects of the drilling and the chemicals and wastewater on the air, water, etc. We know from what's happened in Arkansas and Texas that the drilling causes earthquakes. We know that the fumes can make the drilling sites and neighboring properties uninhabitable. Neighbors have been unable to live in, let alone sell their homes. Fracking has destroyed water wells in adjacent properties. Lots of problems. Look at all the posting we've done on this in the Pennsylvania forum for more details.

And any moneys the drillers have given to local governments has been totally voluntary. I favor legal obligations.
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sweetapogee Donating Member (449 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 08:43 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. yes
I'm in NE PA in the coal country. There is a limited amount of NG here more on the way but I think it will be a non-starter in my county because there are too many against any kind of natural resource mining as we are all dug up from 150 years of strip mining.

Maybe it's just me but I don't have anything against voluntary contributions as long as the people are satisfied with the amount of funds given. When in a conversation with Keith McCall (former PA house speaker, I'm sure you know him, a great guy!) last year he told me that if you ask for a donation you will get one, if you impose a fee, you get the fee and nothing else. This was in response to my question on our township putting in place a fire tax so that we could spend less time fund raising. Not to complain but we have the same amount of training as paid fire so between training and gathering up operating expenses we are in constant work mode that leaves me with little time to clean up my yard.
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drm604 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 09:29 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Are you saying that the donations always end up amounting to more than mandatory fees would?
Ever hear the saying "a bird in hand is worth two in the bush"?

Municipalities are supposed to depend on the good faith contributions of these companies? Companies that fight environmental regulations? Companies that fight housing regulations? They're supposed to depend on them doing the right thing?

Heck, why have taxes or fees at all? Let's just have fund raisers two or three times a year.
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sweetapogee Donating Member (449 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 10:03 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. no
I'm not say it, rather this is what I was told by Keith McCall, an individual who seems to know what he is talking about. This was in regard to funds for fire services and EMS not general housekeeping bills in particular.

I have heard of the terms "a bird in the hand..." do you think I live in a cave?
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drm604 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 10:16 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. No, I don't think you live in a cave.
It was a rhetorical question. (And yes, I do realize that your cave question was also rhetorical.)

The point is that it's better to have set dependable fees than to depend on the good faith of these companies. I don't know anything about Keith McCall but I respectfully disagree with him.

It seems like commonsense to me that mandatory fees and taxes are more dependable than voluntary donations. Depending on the largess of these companies is just bad government. Local government has an obligation to it's citizens to make sure companies at a minimum pay for resources they use and damages they cause. This goes for fire services and EMS as well as anything else.
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sweetapogee Donating Member (449 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 12:30 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. I
can tell you don't know how fire and EMS is funded in PA. It defies explanation but that is the way it is and the state is not going to change it anytime soon.

Keith McCall by the way is at the state level one of if not the most powerful elected officials out there. He is from a long time PA political family. It is of course your right to disagree with him but you shouldn't discount him especially since your not up to speed with emergency funding in the commonwealth. I could give example after example of local governments that spend less than $3000.00 per year on fire protection. This is a state that has 10 volunteer firefighters for every paid ff. I don't think there is a single paid company that responds to emergencies on the turnpike, I'm sure there are none on the NE extension. If it were not for fireman's relief, 100s of fire companies would have no PPE for the men to wear!

EMS is a little better funded but not because of state grants, rather it lives on subscriptions from members.
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Divernan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 01:13 PM
Response to Reply #6
11. I worked with Keith McCall - sorry to see him resign
Edited on Wed Apr-06-11 01:14 PM by Divernan
& more so since he was replaced by a Republican. He brought a lot of state money to Carbon County. And he made out quite well when he resigned, getting a $145,000 a year appointment to the state gaming control board. I do disagree with him on foregoing fees for donations. It is NOT a case of having to choose one or the other. You can have both. Even if your volunteer company received fees, you could still hold fundraisers, and people would still get charitable tax deductions for their donations. At least you would have a set amount to rely on. I know equipment costs a lot - so get fees for daily operations and have fund raisers to buy a new pumper truck ($100,000). I saw your new rep. got a state grant for some $316,000 for some 32 fire/EMT volunteer companies. That's less than $10,000 each - a drop in the bucket. How does that compare to grants Rep. McCall brought home?

When times are so tough economically, donations dry up. My brother was a volunteer paramedic in his community, so was close to his local fire company. My thinking is that people who are highly trained and work so hard and risk their lives for NO pay, should not have to spend time begging for funding.
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sweetapogee Donating Member (449 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Keith
McCall was and is a very good guy we all agree on that. Even the NRA gave him an A rating.

Not to be a nit picker, but there are only 22 fire districts in CC and all of them are volunteer. There are a few volunteer BLS outfits but no volunteer ALS so by definition there are not now nor has there ever been any volunteer paramedics in the county. The 6 BLS ambulance outfits bill for their services same as the county (LAA) ALS provider. The remaining QRS are funded by their respective fire companies.

I don't expect the current rep to meet Keith's ability to get money into the county but to be fair he has only been at the job for a few months and Keith had it for approx 28 years and was after all the speaker of the house. But that is beside the point I'm trying to make, which is what speaker McCall told me to my face. If I know anything about life in the big county it's is the how and mechanics of CC PA funding for fire and EMS.

I can tell you this though, a couple of years ago Keith helped us with a grant worth 100K. Very much appreciated but so full of conditions as to make it almost not worth having. And this may sound like a lot of money but that is the only money we have from his office in the entire time he was state rep., so nice as he is and I wish him well in the future, the only big winner in the state grant game was Summit Hill and Lansford which happens to be where he lives. Don't misunderstand me Keith McCall is a first rate person.

Is your brother still in EMS and living in PA? I agree with you that the fire service should be fully funded but it's not. The only reason I do this and believe me I'm up to my @ in it is because my parents passed on the special gene which has no cure except to be in it. In the last 5 years alone I have put in over 800 hours of state fire school and a greater amount of training at the local level. Plus actual calls and fund raising. I hold certs in just about everything. I'm an officer and my wife is a executive officer, my kids are in the service as were my father and grandfather. There are about .05 fire and EMS volunteers per 100 persons living in the county.
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Divernan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 08:11 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. I got my info from Heffley's news release, which claims 32, not 22
Edited on Wed Apr-06-11 08:14 PM by Divernan
Maybe his PR guy got the number wrong
My brother was first an EMT and then progressed to paramedic in the Cincinnati area. He had a genius IQ, a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Purdue and ended up selecting the next generation of supercomputers for GE, but never told any of his fellow volunteers about his degree/level of employment. Always said anyone could get a Ph.D. if they had the money for tuition and time to spend. He died in his 50's of a rare and untreatable form of brain cancer, after a heroic battle against the disease. His fellow volunteers were a tremendous source of comfort and support to him and his family during his illness. He worked for GE for a paycheck but always said that what gave his life meaning and passion was the volunteer work he did as EMT/paramedic. He was a kind and good hearted man.
My big brother.
I still miss him.

Thank you & all in your family for your service to your community.

Heffley Congratulates Carbon County Fire and EMS Grant Recipients

As part of the 2010-2011 Volunteer Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program, 32 area volunteer fire companies and emergency medical services (EMS) providers have been awarded grants totaling $316,854, which have been approved to help them with operational expenses, according to Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon).

This program provides vital funding to volunteer fire and EMS providers, but represents just a fraction of their annual expenses, Heffley said. The fine work that volunteer fire and emergency responders do is irreplaceable, and essential in protecting the people of Carbon County, but the average cost of a pumper truck is well over $100,000, so every dollar in grants or donations is critical to keeping our volunteer fire and EMS companies in operation.

The grants come from a $25 million account specifically dedicated to providing supplemental funding for volunteer fire and EMS companies.

I want to remind companies eligible to receive this funding to make sure their applications are filled out completely and submitted in a timely fashion to ensure this funding is received, said Heffley.

For more information about the grant program, go to

State Representative Doyle Heffley
122nd District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Todd Abele
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