Backfire prediction comes true
In a 3 – 2 vote, Cecil Township gave in to bullying and agreed to a secret meeting with Range Resources.
But one supervisor wrote a letter to the paper saying he refused to meet.
On the advice of their solicitor given in a letter, there was a revote and this time is was 4-1 against a private meeting.
Schrader read the letter, in which the insurance carrier told township officials to “refrain from any direct communication with Range Resources.” The letter also indicated that any direct contact without counsel present could open the township up to liability in the litigation process.
Later it was revealed the dissenting voter had a lease with Range.
“She has a large financial interest in oil and gas drilling,” Schrader said, adding that to “avoid the impression of impropriety,” she should recuse herself.
She refused to recuse herself.
Chris Watts former councilman for Denton, TX said in an interview with the Denton Record Chronicle that his biggest regret was giving in to Range when they were bullying the city.
Watts has already asked himself which vote he regrets the most: the natural gas pad site at Rayzor Ranch.
It was the city’s first major challenge from the industry. Range Resources had four pad-site options for drilling in the massive retail and multifamily development. The company picked the site that was closest to existing neighborhoods, a hospital and a public park. The council pressed the developer and the operator to negotiate for another site, but nothing changed. The city’s ordinances weren’t as strong as they should have been, he said.
He has since questioned not only the true litigation threat but also the criteria they were asked to use to make the decision. He believes that other council members feel the same way.
“We felt we were backed into a corner, that if we opposed it, we would probably be sued,” Watts said. “I was outraged being put in that position. If the vote happened today, it would be very different. I don’t think it would pass — period.
Now, “fear of litigation” has a different effect on him, and his thoughts and feelings are more conflicted.
“Next time I would not be so hesitant to do that fight,” he said.
He’s watched the continuing battle over shale oil and gas development with interest, particularly those cities that have been successful in banning hydraulic fracturing based on zoning laws.
“It will give time for the science to evolve,” Watts said.
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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Cathy McMullen says
Mr. Watts will be greatly missed on Denton city council. I was extremely mad at him and the other council members when they voted to allow the Range drilling rig 300 ft from a city park. Mr. Watts is the only member to step forward after 4 years and say the vote was a mistake and for that he has gained my respect.
Range Resources lied, intimidated, and cohersed the city staff and council member into put a gas well close less than 300 ft from a residential neighborhood, hospital, city park, and retirement home instead of a site further away from the community. This was done, I am sure due to economic reasons and not ” based on the geologist recommendations” like they claimed. Range is greedy, self serving, manipulative, and soulless. Thankfully they sold their Denton assets. I feel sorry for the towns they are now using their Psy-Ops techniques on.
The lawsuit threat was from the mineral owners ie the Rayzor Family.
Range could have claimed force majeure & got their bonus money back. Also, you need to look at the way the property is shaped. All companies try to stick to a NW to SE alignment or vice versa as the current well is laid out. If you switched the drillsite to the NW corner of their property you run into issues reaching the southern portion of the property because of the other landowners on the NW side (Chevron, McDonalds, Racetrac).
Is that part of the lease…for Range to get their bonus money back if there’s a force majeure? Haven’t seen that before.
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