The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

February 20, 2013

Range Resources Corp. accused of bullying fracking foes

(Continued)

While the case is still being fought in court, Lipsky stands by his charge of Range’s culpability: “It’s ludicrous,” he said, referring to the case. “They’re ruthless.”

In December 2010 the EPA determined that Range’s gas drilling near Lipsky’s home had caused “extremely high levels” of methane, which can be explosive, and benzene, a carcinogen, in his water. Fifteen months later, the EPA dropped the matter after the company agreed to test 30 local water wells and turn over relevant testing data to the agency.

Separately, its lawyer issued a cease-and-desist letter to anti-fracking blogger Sharon Wilson, who first published a video of Lipsky holding a hose hooked up to his water well, which had so much methane in it that he could light it on fire. Wilson has blogged about the EPA action against Range, and the Texas court fight between Lipsky and Range.

Wilson’s blog “continued misrepresentations about Range, Range’s actions in the past and its intentions with regard to this lawsuit subject your client to potential liability,” Andrew Sims, a lawyer representing Range wrote to Wilson’s lawyer last June 25.

Sims wrote that Range “respects the rights of citizens to exercise free speech, including Ms. Wilson’s right to promote her anti-oil and gas development agenda.”

Range has also fought the EPA, and its former top official based in Texas, Al Armendariz.

Range’s allies in the oil and gas industry and in Congress seized on a video that surfaced from 2010 in which Armendariz is seen comparing the agency’s actions against polluters to Roman conquerors suppressing Turkish towns by crucifying residents.

As a result of those comments becoming publicized, Armendariz resigned in April. He remained in Range’s sights. In October he was quoted telling reporters that in the Range case with Lipsky, “the best available data I was presented by my staff indicated that the driller’s natural gas was ending up in private drinking water.”

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