“It’s just in a different light given the work we do. We accept that and embrace it,” he said.
Range’s fights with residents, local officials and anti- drilling activists highlight the increasingly contentious ties between the booming gas industry and landowners and officials who say greater local oversight is necessary.
It’s an approach that may backfire, as Range is reliant on regulatory approvals, which require support from local officials and citizens.
“When companies get in this serve-and-volley game, it doesn’t serve them well,” John Patterson, a senior adviser at the Reputation Institute in New York, said in an interview. In general, gas and oil producers have a worse reputation with the public than consumer companies, and so, “you are really playing from behind,” he said.
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking, in which water, sand and chemicals are shot underground to break apart rock and free trapped natural gas, has brought a boom in energy production to Pennsylvania, Texas and Colorado, and lowered natural gas costs. That’s lured chemical and other manufacturers to invest in the United States.
It’s also brought complaints from some nearby landowners and farmers, who say leaks from holding ponds, spills and underground ruptures have led to contamination of their water. There are more mundane worries as well.
“I don’t like the gas flaring, the traffic, the pollution or the noise,” Carl Zeno, a resident of Robinson Township, Pa., who lives near a site where Range wants to drill.
Range says it has moved to deal with the concerns. It was the first company to disclose fracturing fluids for each well, pioneered water recycling and helped pass stronger rules for cementing and casing of wells, Pitzarella said. It also is a large supporter of agricultural youth scholarships, the United Way and other area charitable causes, he said.