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Range to Cecil: PUC Challenge Could Be Dropped for Private Meeting

Read the letter township Manager Don Gennuso wrote to Range Resources refusing the meeting—and explaining why.

Cecil Township Manager Don Gennuso said Wednesday that Range Resources has tried to leverage its “sway” with a leaseholder who filed for a Public Utilities Commission review of its Marcellus Shale gas ordinance in order to secure an informal meeting with the board of supervisors.

Gennuso said the first request from Range Resources Local Government Affairs Manager Jim Cannon came in the form of a letter dated Oct. 5.

“Range Resources is evaluating the prospect of resuming the permitting of drilling operations in Cecil Township. In light of this proposal, we would like to schedule a meeting with the supervisors to outline our plans and obtain input on the areas of concern that may still exist with officials regarding our activities,” the letter read.

Despite the request for the informal meeting, Gennuso said four of five supervisors indicated that a formal meeting would be more appropriate, later stating in a letter that a public meeting would “avoid any suggestion of impropriety that rightly or wrongly often accompanies private meetings.”

The state Sunshine Law does not permit a quorum of supervisors to meet privately because action could possibly be taken without the public’s knowledge.

“The board wanted everything to be on the up and up,” the township manager said.

After several phone calls between he and Cannon, the Range employee stopped into the township manager’s office unannounced on Tuesday—a meeting that ended with Gennuso writing a letter to Range and sending carbon copies to the supervisors and two local lawmakers.

“During our phone call of Oct. 16, 2012, I expressed to you the board’s decision and desire to meet publicly with Range Resources,” the letter addressed to Cannon read. “As Range apparently was not desirous of a public meeting, you unexpectedly remarked that Range ‘held sway’ with some of its leaseholders and perhaps if the board would agree to meet privately with Range, Range could convince Alan Rank, a Range leaseholder, to drop his current lawsuit against the township filed with the Public Utilities Commission. This, of course, would allow the township to receive its impact fee allotment which is currently being held by the PUC pending the Rank appeal.”

The letter then continued: “My initial thought was the suggestion that Range had influence over Mr. Rank or the litigation filed against the township raised more questions than it answered regarding the origins and purpose of this lawsuit. The fact that Range is suggesting that the supervisors utilize the ongoing nature of the PUC lawsuit as a factor in their decision as to whether or not to meet privately with Range was not well received.”

The letter ended in part with this paragraph: “Range’s overtures to restart its relationship with Cecil Township and get off on a good foot seems inconsistent with the reference to litigation as a means to influence the actions of the board of supervisors and seems more reminiscent of the past than some new attempt to work together.”

The letter went on to say that the township looked forward to working with Range—in public.

Cannon did not immediately return a voicemail left on his cell phone Wednesday morning.

, who was copied on the township’s letter to Range, did not immediately return a cell phone message seeking comment on the matter.

But reached Wednesday morning, state , who posted the letters between Range Resources and the township on his Facebook page Tuesday, had this to say: “Let’s call this what it is—extortion, plain and simple. The township made it very clear that they want to work with Range Resources, but Range will only do so if those discussions are held in illegal meetings behind closed doors.”

The lawmaker continued: “At a time when public confidence in government is waning, I applaud the four out of the five supervisors who have the respect for both the law and the people of Cecil Township to not give in to these shady demands. If they truly are operating on the level, what does Range have to say behind closed doors that they can’t say in public?”

Editor's Note: To read both letters, please see the attached PDF files.

Cindy McPherson October 24, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Just to preempt the discussion, let's get the anonymous commentors established first: Jason Parks = Jim Cannon from Range Resources Proud American = Janice Gibbs, defender of Cecil Supervisor Elizabeth Cowden (the one who wanted to break the Sunshine Law) Pat Henry = James Protin, friend/contributor to industry puppet Senator Tim Solobay
Mike Knapp October 24, 2012 at 04:06 PM
It's unfortunate that Representative White continues his attempts scuttle efforts made by Range to put forth a good faith effort to discuss and resolve the issues between the parties. It's high time that grudges be put aside so that progress can be made. It certainly appears that the gas company has made the first step towards that. Why its being met with so much backlash and spun into some sort of nonsensical conspiracy is beyond me.
James Carnon October 24, 2012 at 07:33 PM
They did the same thing in MPT. See that the complaint to the PUC was withdrawn. The way that you can tell when RR is saying or doing something unethical - they are there and their lips are moving. No other industry or business acts like these jokers... They want to move back through and drill more in previously drilled areas because they don't have the $$$ to build more infrastructure - pipelines, compressor stations, metering stations. They blew their chance to do things right and treat communities right - they didn't. Awwwww, thanks for buying the pig at the fair, thatnks for a statue - this ain't Texas fellas. We actually CARE about where we live.
Pat Henry October 24, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Few things are more helpful to fostering dialogue and cooperation than throwing out accusatory terms like "extortion" with no factual basis. Actions like this are short sighted and provide clear evidence why Representative White is unsuccessful as a legislator. His attitude and demeanor is acerbic and he has no issue perpetuating bald faced lies if his viewpoint is contradictory. Its no wonder that he can not find other legislators to sign onto his proposed bills or amendments. He is toxic and clearly the rest of the legislature treats him accordingly.
Me October 25, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Cindy would you please post the information that Elizabeth Cowden wanted to break the Sunshine Law.
Jason Parks October 25, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Let's get the anonymous commenters out of the way: Cindy McPherson = Jesse White (gives him an excuse to wear women's clothing) Pat Henry = someone local who can read Jesse White = who cares Black helicopters, tin foil hats, accusations of extortion all carry the same weight.
cecil resident October 25, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Cindy I'm glad to see you can copy and paste since this is the only comment you can post. More accusations without putting out any proof how about a real debate and not hit and run.
cecil resident October 25, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Oct 1, 2012 Cecil township pass a policy that concerned all the citizens in the township. On Oct 3,2012 Amanda Gillooly the editor was asked to post the policy so residents could read it since they post their side of the situation onThe Patch The night of the meeting it was put upon the screen and people was unable to read it and it was rapidly read then voted on before the residents had a chance to digest what all was in it. Since Amanda is very good about getting things that are asked for and she stated she was going to ask the township for it to post. Since it was never posted I can only assume that the township didn't give it to Amanda. Two days after this letter was sent to Range Resource its posted on the Patch a letter meant for Cecil Township Board of Supervisor, State Senator Tim Solobay, State Rep. Jesse White, John Smith. We don't know what was said in the phone converstion on October 16, 2012 so I guess it is only fair that I hold my opinion.
Me October 25, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley touted the benefits of both public and private vehicles running on cheaper, more environmentally friendly compressed natural gas. Cawley spoke today in Erie after touring an Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority bus powered by natural gas and seeing a dual-fuel Ford F-150 truck owned by CNG One Source, Inc. The truck can run on either compressed natural gas or gasoline. CNG plans to open a large-scale, compressed natural gas fueling station by April at a former truck stop location along Interstate 90 in North East Township. EMTA is in the process of converting its fleet of about 85 vehicles so that they all eventually run on natural gas. Cawley said that wells tapping Marcellus Shale in other parts of the state are also benefiting Erie County. He said it's providing benefits that include cleaner air, jobs and economic assistance. See Friday's Erie Times-News and
Amanda Gillooly October 26, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Proud - just getting up on this thread. I will be honest - I didn't get a chance to ask for it. The township is always helpful getting me information in a timely manner. Forgive me - the policy that you requested was an oversight on my part, admittedly.
David Jefferson October 30, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Did the company respond to the letter from Mr. Genusso? I find it strange a corporation would ignore that.

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