Range/DEP Lycoming Well Settlement: From $8.9M Fine to $0

Yesterday MDN brought you the news that Range Resources and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) have officially “settled” something we thought was already settled–alleged methane migration from a well Range drilled in 2011 (see Range & PA DEP Settle re Alleged Methane Leak at Lycoming Well). In June 2015, then-Secretary of the DEP, John Quigley, slapped Range with an $8.9 million fine–the largest such fine ever levied by the DEP (see PA DEP Slaps Range with Record $8.9M Fine for Methane Migration). The DEP said a Range well, drilled in 2011 in Lycoming County, PA, leaked methane since at least 2013 via an improperly cemented well casing, and the methane “contaminated the groundwater-fed wells of private water supplies, and a nearby stream.” Range and the landowner where the well is drilled said methane was in groundwater supplies long before Range drilled the well. Range fought the action tooth and nail, appealing the determination and fine to the PA Environmental Hearing Board. In May 2016, the DEP quietly dropped the fine and the case against Range (see PA DEP Drops $8.9M Fine Against Range Res. re Methane Migration). We thought that was THE END. But it wasn’t. On Monday of this week, both Range and the DEP filed paperwork with the Environmental Hearing Board (a special court set up to hear appeals of DEP decisions) requesting the matter now officially be closed and “settled.” We now have a copy of the settlement itself–and it shows the DEP will not extra one penny from Range over what they previously said should cost $8.9 million. Interesting. Antis like THE Delaware Riverkeeper, Maya van Rossum, are “dumbfounded” at the settlement. Below is a copy of the settlement paperwork and select anti reaction to it…

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