The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

February 20, 2013

Range Resources Corp. accused of bullying fracking foes

(Continued)

Pitzarella confirmed that he was referring to White, and said it was in response to White “coming unraveled” in the radio interview.

White said the leaks and the “head games” in sending him that email, are all part of an attempt to “shut me up.”

“Range wants people to believe that I am this wild-eyed crazy person,” White said. “Their thought is to intimidate me.”

Instead of fundraising issues, it was growing complaints from local residents and seeing what he views as Range’s actions strong-arming local townships that turned him against the company, White said in an interview. It was only after White questioned state regulators’ testing of water where residents say gas-drilling contaminated their supplies that his e-mails to Range showed up in the newspaper, he said. Around that same time a pro-drilling group also sponsored robo-calls to his constituents, urging them to call White’s office and complain that he opposes the gas industry.

“It’s a non-stop onslaught,” he said. “This has taken over my life.”

The problems are not just with White.

Range filed two applications to drill in Pennsylvania’s Robinson Township last year. As the town moved to review those bids, Range said it faced a series of hurdles to get clearance to drill, and it filed a letter with the town saying the delay “violates Range’s due-process rights.”

Range’s lawyer declined to answer questions at a town hearing in December to discuss its own application. Robinson was unfairly dragging out the process, and should just approve its application, the company said in documents filed with the town. Pitzarella blamed the delays on town attorney John Smith, who has a private practice taking on drillers, including Range.

“I don’t know where that comes from,” Brian Coppola, the town supervisor, said in an interview. “If anything, he is the guy who tries to smooth things over.”

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