Popular Posts

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Range Resources paid virtually no taxes in 2010

Here is an interesting article listing big corporations that paid little to no income taxes. And, Range Resources being one of them. Read here. Range paid 0.53% in income taxes. What did YOU pay?

Town, Texas driller pace off for showdown

By Timothy Puko                               PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW                                             Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Home isn't heaven anymore for Range Resources.

The multibillion-dollar Texas-based company is squaring off with leaders of Mt. Pleasant, a Washington County hamlet of about 3,500 people where Range Resources drilled its first well in the gas-rich Marcellus shale in 2004. It's threatening to take its business elsewhere.
The conflict, hinging on how much influence township officials should exert at well sites, could air tonight at a meeting the company will host in the Hickory Fire Hall. Township leaders want to require special approval for each site, saying they need to control trailers, access roads, fences, lights and other functions to protect neighbors who don't hold leases for wells.

A Range Resources spokesman said on Tuesday that could lead to inconsistent rules. Mostly, company officials are upset about the town's attempt to keep company supervisors from having trailers at each well site, spokesman Matt Pitzarella said.

"Now, that fox is going to be busy in that hen house," township Supervisor Larry H. Grimm said. "We're pretty happy about the township residents who are getting a lot of money. But we represent all the residents, not just the ones with leases."

The town of rolling hills and farms, about 25 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, has one permitted well for every 350 residents. Range Resources this week sent two letters to residents, stirring chatter in bars and gas stations around town.

One letter reminds people the company invested millions of dollars in township roads and says the standards in its model ordinance would be tougher than any others pertaining to drillers. The second letter, sent to leaseholders, claims township officials rejected Range's offers to cooperate over well-site regulation. The letter threatens that employees might shift their shopping and dining to "more cooperative townships."

"While we have made every effort to establish a positive and robust working relationship with your elected officials, our attempts continue to be rejected," says the unsigned letter on company letterhead. "As a result, we are sending this communication to inform you that we have revised our future long-term plans in the township." It notes those revisions "may prove detrimental to leaseholders."

Township supervisors think that's an effort to manipulate opinion before a public hearing next week on whether the town should take more control of well sites, township Manager Mary Ann Stevenson said. Pitzarella said the letters are simply a frank effort by the company to explain what it's doing.

"We're kind of at our wits' end with this," he said. "What we're telling folks is that we will do everything you've laid out, but all we're asking for is consistency. One day it's the workers' trailers, the next day it's the supervisor's trailer. ... Another day they said we were violating the town odor ordinance, even though we went out with their supervisors and couldn't smell anything."

Grimm and Stevenson said township officials fairly applied town ordinances and had to repeatedly cite Range for violating them.

Range officials said in their letter that they are considering legal action. Some of their appeals reached magistrate's court, and town officials say they don't have resources to match Range in a legal fight.

In the few businesses along Route 50, which becomes Main Street through Hickory, people's opinions are divided. Several people and town officials say Range and another driller briefly boycotted the businesses last year. Pitzarella denied that Range took part in a boycott.
Scott Fowler, 48, is angry nevertheless. The Amwell resident opened Three Guyz Subz & Pizza Piez in Hickory last year and said Range employees haven't brought much business. He blames them for scarring the rural landscape with well pads and said the letters show how disingenuous the company is when promoting its contributions to small towns.

"I would rather they had never come here at all," Fowler said. "I think they're after one thing only: the gas. They don't care about how they get it. ... They don't care about anyone else."
But Marianne Cowden, a bartender at The Ole Hickory Inn, said Range employees often occupy two tables in the restaurant. Cowden, 30, is a fifth-generation resident of Mt. Pleasant, and her brother has two wells on his property, she said. Range made a world of difference for farmers who spent lifetimes struggling to live off the land, she said.

"(The supervisors) are making it too difficult for them to be here," she said. "I don't think they're threatening the town (residents) at all. They're threatening the township."

Range Resources, Mount Pleasant Township at odds over well sites Driller threatens to pull out Wednesday, April 06, 2011 By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Mount Pleasant's shale gas drilling company is Range Resources. But maybe not for much longer.

The state's largest Marcellus Shale drilling company has threatened to discontinue its considerable drilling activities and economic support of businesses in the Washington County township because it says township officials are uncooperative.

A Range spokesman said the township's long-standing refusal to allow the company to temporarily house well foremen and workers in trailer-style bunkhouses on its drill sites prompted the warning, which is contained in one of two letters sent to Mount Pleasant residents by the company earlier this week.

But a township official said the letters, which don't mention the bunkhouse issue, are an attempt to intimidate township leaders as they near a vote later this month on a new "conditional use ordinance" to govern where and how drilling operations may operate in the township. The proposed ordinance, which has taken more than a year to draft, will require prior approval of the township's planning commission and board of supervisors for all new wells.

Gas well drilling in the township is now done under a "permitted use"
that allows drilling under state regulations but requires no local approval.

"We are outraged," said Dencil Bachus, a Mount Pleasant resident and coordinator of a citizens committee that advised the township on the Marcellus ordinance. "This is an effort by Range Resources to divide a community on the eve of a decision on an ordinance that affects them directly. It's an attempt by the company to get what they want rather than operate within the [township government] process. It's a divide-and-conquer public relations strategy."
But Donna Seaver, a Mount Pleasant resident who has lease with Range to drill under her 40 acre farm, said if Range leaves it will hurt many residents and businesses.

"I see progress and growth and people with jobs as a result of the drilling," she said, We're lucky to have Range as the main operator in the township."

In one letter, sent to gas leaseholders in the township, Range threatens to take its drilling operations and purchases of goods, services and food to "more cooperative communities," and states, "we have revised our future long-term plans in the Township due to continuing difficulties with your Township supervisors and their unwillingness to work with us."

The letter says the revisions, "may prove detrimental to leaseholders," and warns that the company is considering suing the township in state or federal court. It invites leaseholders to a meeting the company is hosting to discuss its drilling plans in the township.

Over the last six years, Range has drilled more than 100 Marcellus Shale gas wells in the 36-square-mile township.

A second Range letter, sent to all 1,400 township residents, said the company planned to comply with a "model ordinance" it wrote that "covers nearly all aspects of natural gas production that could possibly cause concern."

Matt Pitzarella, a Range spokesman, said that although the company wasn't happy with Mount Pleasant's conditional use ordinance because the local drilling approval process will make it harder to plan drilling operations, the letters were not an attempt to influence the vote on the ordinance. He said the company remained frustrated about Mount Pleasant's refusal to allow bunkhouse trailers on well drilling pads.

"If we continue to experience issues with the trailers, we will explore other options," Mr. Pitzarella said. "This is the only township that I know of in the U.S. that allows no bunkhouses on drill sites."

Mr. Pitzarella said the bunkhouses were used by the industry to provide temporary housing for up to 26 workers. He said each well site should also have a trailer to house a drilling supervisor

"If the township continues to push this issue, we may have to challenge it in court or walk away," Mr. Pitzarella said.

But a decades-old township ordinance prohibits such "temporary housing," said Larry Grimm, chairman of the township's three member board of supervisors. He sees the bunkhouse issue as "settled" and the Range letters as an attempt to "incite" Mount Pleasant residents to pressure supervisors to defeat the proposed conditional use ordinance.

"The so-called 'model ordinance' was written by Range and is just an attempt to have the fox watching the henhouse," he said. They've been threatening us forever but we cannot allow that to influence our decisions. It's our sworn obligation as supervisors to protect the citizens of the township -- those with and without gas leases -- and that's what we're trying to do."
John Smith, a natural resources attorney who has advised Mount Pleasant on drafting its ordinance and is the solicitor in Cecil and Robinson Township, Washington County, said most of the municipalities around Mount Pleasant already use conditional use ordinances to regulate drilling.

"Such an ordinance can add conditions that may be specific to that site," Mr. Smith said. "For example, a well drilled next to a school might require different things than one drilled in the middle of nowhere."

Mr. Grimm said the township could document its attempts to work with Range in written correspondence and at "dozens of meetings." He said it could also document Range's illegal attempts to house workers on three different well sites in the township since 2007. Each time Range was cited and fined. It has appealed one of the fines.

"If Range wants to pull out, let it pull out," said Mr. Grimm, calling the company's bluff. "But we're not talking about stopping drilling in any way. We want the township residents to get the money they're entitled to in their leases. But many residents have told us, while they're not opposed to drilling, they just want it done right."

The public hearing on Mount Pleasant's conditional use proposal is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, and final action on the ordinance is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 27. Both meetings are in the township municipal building in Hickory.

Range's meeting for its leaseholders is scheduled from 6 to 8 this evening in the Hickory Fire Hall.

Don Hopey: dhopey@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1983.


No comments:

Post a Comment