Range Resources Sues Cecil Township Over New Ordinance

Cecil Township in Washington County, PA—a suburb of Pittsburgh—recently passed an ordinance changing shale gas drilling from a permitted use to a conditional use, meaning each well drilled would have to be approved by the township on a case by case basis. It requires drillers to do twice the work—once in filing a permit application with the state, and a second time with the local municipality. Range Resources, one of the nation’s largest Marcellus Shale drillers (and with operations in Cecil), has just filed a lawsuit requesting the new ordinance be overturned.

Southpointe-based Range Resources has sued Cecil Township over its recently approved conditional-use ordinance governing Marcellus Shale drilling.

Township manager Don Gennuso said he had not yet been served with the paperwork but he confirmed Wednesday that the company had filed suit, claiming Cecil had not properly advertised its meetings, among other concerns.

“It’s unfortunate that Range—a corporation in our town—would sue us, especially when we involved them in the process,” he said.

After several public hearings, the board of supervisors last month changed its ordinance, making Marcellus Shale drilling a conditional rather than permitted use.

Gennuso said the supervisors stand by the ordinance because it “followed all applicable rules.”

Range Resources Matt Pitzarella gave the following statement:

“It’s always our desire to work with municipalities and local governments. However, when going through the ordinance-adoption process a municipality is required to provide public notice of hearings and amendments or changes to the ordinance to both the public and also county planning agencies and Cecil did none of these things,” he said. “They also did not share a copy with the county before adopting the changes, in turn preventing impacting residents, individuals or county officials from commenting. In the end, these are measures that will only add costs to local taxpayers, which is unfortunate. Other states like neighboring Ohio have strong baseline rules and regulations that are consistent across the state.”*

*CanonMcMillanPatch (Oct 12, 2011) – Range Resources Files Suit Over Cecil Ordinance