Monthly Archives: January 2015

Range Resources, DEP Reach $1.75 Million Settlement Over Water Withdrawl Records

Range_Resources_Logo

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has entered into a $1.75 million dollar settlement agreement with Southpointe-based Range Resources for failure to keep proper water withdrawal records and for exceeding the amount of water withdrawn under an approved DEP Water Management Plan.

Under the state’s Oil and Gas Act, Range was required to have the approved Water Management Plan covering the company’s withdrawal of water from state waterways for use in natural gas drilling. DEP approved Range’s WMP in July 2009.

The company did not adhere to their plan. From July 2009 to February 2014, Range did not record daily maximum water withdrawal and instantaneous maximum withdrawal rates, as required.

Under their WMP, Range was also required to report water withdrawal rates electronically to the Department’s Water Use Database System. The information provided by the company was often different than or not supported by existing records.

The company has since changed its withdrawal, monitoring and reporting practices so that they meet the requirements of its WMP and the law. The company has also corrected the information previously submitted to WUDS.

According to the terms of the settlement, Range will pay a fine of $800,000 and will fund almost $950,000 toward the rehabilitation, expansion, and operation of the Hamilton Abandoned Mine Treatment System in Findlay Township, Allegheny County. The project will be implemented through a public-private partnership consisting of the Raccoon Creek Watershed Association, the Independence Conservancy, Penn’s Corner Conservancy Charitable Trust, Washington and Allegheny County Conservation Districts, two local landowners, and BioMost, Inc.

This passive mine water treatment system was originally constructed in 2003 as part of an effort to lessen the impact of mine drainage in the Raccoon Creek Watershed. It functioned successfully for a number of years until access to the system was restricted by a property owner. The system subsequently fell into disrepair and is now in need of renovation and expansion. The property now has a new owner and access to the system has been re-established. Range will pay $758,089 for the rehabilitation and expansion of the system and an additional $191,000 toward long-term operation and maintenance of the system.

“Protection of our natural resources is a key component of DEP’s mission.” John Ryder, DEP’s Director of Oil and Gas Operations said. “This innovative agreement does that directly by providing support for a local project that will improve our state’s waterways without the use of additional public funding.”

Range proposed the project as part of the settlement discussions with DEP and has pledged to sign an Implementation Agreement for the project that includes an outline of the scope of the project, a commitment by the conservation district to complete the project and a plan for submitting progress reports to DEP.

DEP approved the Hamilton AMD project in lieu of receiving additional penalties because the project will provide a substantial benefit to public health and the environment. The project also has strong local support.

Outside of this agreement, the project is not something that Range is otherwise legally required to do and Range may not deduct any costs incurred in connection with implementation of the project for any tax purposes.

Tagged ,

A.J. Williams Announces Candidacy for Washington County Commissioner

Editor’s Note: I report heavily on Marcellus Shale issues related to Washington County. Today, I received this press release from A.J. Williams, a Democrat I worked with while a reporter covering Canonsburg, where he previously served as a councilman.

Current county commissioners Larry Maggi and Harlan Shober on Tuesday announced they would run for re-election. Washington County’s lone Republican commissioner, Diana Irey Vaughan has not yet made a formal announcement regarding her political intentions.

I will be asking the candidates more about shale as the election nears. Until then, I got a brief comment from Mr. Williams regarding shale. He said, “Drill, but don’t abuse it.” -amanda

unnamed
Washington- Former Canonsburg Borough Councilman and North Strabane Resident, Allen “AJ” Williams has announced he will run for Washington County Commissioner.

Williams, 27, a Democrat, is a 2006 graduate of Canon McMillan High School and a proud alum of Washington & Jefferson College. He currently resides in Strabane, with his wife Savannah and their two sons, Kamden and Micah.

He is employed at South Hills Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Ram as a finance manager.

Williams previously served on Canonsburg Borough Council, becoming the youngest member to be elected to that position.

During his time on council, Williams played an integral part in the beautification and enhancement of Canonsburg Town Park and Pool. As a freshman member of council, Williams was selected by his peers to sit on the negotiating committee, which was successful in reaching a fair contract without any adverse effects to the budget or taxpayers’ pockets.

Williams said:

“I’ve never been one to sit back and complain, instead I prefer to take action and make a difference. I am very disheartened by the increasing number of violent crimes and drug related overdoses in Washington County. We need to become proactive to these issues, and work collaboratively through all levels of government to help out our communities and citizens. Our county government needs to be a helping hand to our municipalities. They need to show that they are concerned, that can’t be done in ballrooms and fancy functions!”

Williams said he believes parts of Washington County are highly sought destinations for businesses and families that are looking to relocate; however, officials cannot become complacent, but must focus on other parts of the county that are struggling. “The focus cannot be solely on commerce, we have to look at the quality of life and the daily struggles of people in our less fortunate communities!”