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Gas field politics affect leadership in Western Pa. communities [oust those opposed to drilling]
Pittsburg Tribune-Review ^ | February 9, 2014 | Timothy Puko

Posted on 02/09/2014 4:53:37 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife

Rodger Kendall says he never wanted to enter politics, but when he did, he waded into one of the biggest political conflicts in Pennsylvania.

Kendall became a supervisor in Robinson, Washington County, in January, less than three weeks since it won a landmark state Supreme Court ruling overturning part of new laws aimed at eliminating local obstacles to shale drilling.

Despite the win, he used his first night in office, Jan. 6, to lead a vote to remove Robinson from the case. Then he made his first official call as a township supervisor to Range Resources Corp.

In one election, voters dumped two of the township's three supervisors and shifted the township's position on drilling.

“The new administration is a gas-friendly administration,” said Kendall, 48, who has his own gas lease with Range Resources. “We have no intention of holding up or hindering the industry.”

Robinson wants out of the fight it started, Robinson et al v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania et al, over Act 13 oil and gas reforms. Lawyers for the township have to get the court's permission to be dropped from the case in which it is the lead plaintiff.

The state moved to establish uniform rules for gas drilling, among other things, with Act 13. But Robinson and others mounted a successful challenge to preserve municipal control over gas drilling through local zoning regulations.

Ultimately, Robinson's decision to drop out of the case is a formality. Several other plaintiffs will keep the case moving through appeals courts.

Robinson's revised stance shows how far the influence of the shale gas boom can reach — down to a three-person township government. The community of about 2,000 people in rural hills just west of Allegheny County has been caught up in debates over fairness, money and power.

About-face on drilling

Strong public support for gas drilling is as prominent in Robinson as anywhere in Pennsylvania, said Kendall, a Democrat. He believes voters who support drilling elected him and ally Stephen L. Duran, a Republican.

But Kendall's political opponents say outside influence is reaching in, too.

“I never experienced anything like this,” said Irene Barrie, 61, who opposed drilling and supported ousted supervisor Brian Coppola. “People just see money, and they don't care about anything else.”

Coppola, a Republican, said he didn't oppose drilling but wanted to ensure the companies follow rules and pay for any disruptions. The board approved several wells, then got involved in legal fights with drillers who claimed permits weren't being approved fast enough. Drilling triggered heated debate in township meetings with overflowing crowds of residents.

“There was clearly special interest involved,” Coppola said, declining to explain. “It's so transparent.”

Kendall and others deny having coordinated with gas companies or outside groups to turn residents against supervisors who were viewed as throwing up obstacles to drilling.

Robinson — a township 10 miles long and 3 miles wide, bisected by Route 22 — is surrounded by farmland. The boroughs of Midway and McDonald lie along its southern border. Census figures show the median household income is $47,361, about $5,000 below the statewide average.

Those families live atop some of the most valuable gas deposits in the Appalachian Basin, according to estimates from Texas-based Range Resources. The company has 23 active wells there, state records show.

Range estimates that under Robinson, the Marcellus, Upper Devonian and Utica shale formations combined hold more than 300 billion cubic feet of natural gas per square mile. At today's wholesale prices, that's about $1.5 billion worth of gas per square mile of the township.

‘Very liberating'

Chevron, Atlas Energy and Chesapeake have active wells in Robinson, state records show, and residents say the growing Cecil company Rice Energy Inc. has expressed interest in leasing land.

“You have a lot of farmers in this town who for years have scraped by. They're living milk check to milk check,” said Duran, 29, a former combat medic who defeated Coppola in the primary. “For the first time, there were farmers in this area who could actually get ahead. ... It's very liberating.”

Yet opportunity magnified longstanding land-use disputes causing conflict in township government, the current and former supervisors said. Kendall, for example, wrangled for years with township officials about subdividing his property, among other issues, he said.

Gas leases led to debate over the role and effectiveness of township government. Kendall said his family leased more than 100 acres for gas drilling, with a bonus payment of $2,000 to $3,000 an acre. But he said drilling on his property was held up because it increasingly became more difficult and time-consuming to get permits from the township.

Range sued in county and state courts, alleging Robinson supervisors improperly delayed its permits, cases that are pending. Kendall filed complaints with state regulators, challenging township rules for drilling, and that added to legal fights challenging Act 13.

With an annual operating budget of $500,000, Robinson found itself fighting on two fronts against the commonwealth, with a budget of $29 billion, and a company with a stock market value of $13.5 billion.

“It's definitely the front lines,” said John M. Smith, former township solicitor. “It has become more divisive because the money is real and the money is now. And the impact is real and the impact is now.”

Voters change priorities

The new supervisors say voters realigned leaders to match priorities they share with many other Pennsylvanians.

A Franklin & Marshall College poll released last week found 64 percent of Pennsylvanians favor the gas-drilling industry; 27 percent who oppose it. When asked whether drilling “has improved or reduced the quality of life” in communities, 38 percent said their lives improved, 26 percent said drilling reduced the quality of life, and the rest didn't know.

More drilling means a better future, Kendall said — something that's important to his constituents.

“We're not going to shut 'em out,” said Duran, whose parents leased with Range. “We're going to get things going, to get these opportunities moving.”


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Front Page News; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: capitalism; economy; energy; jobs; marcellus; naturalgas
A very encouraging article.
1 posted on 02/09/2014 4:53:38 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

My 2.25 acres just gave me my first two month (oct/nov) check ... $2,924.00


2 posted on 02/09/2014 4:59:19 AM PST by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: knarf

Just enough for your Obamacare payments.


3 posted on 02/09/2014 5:03:38 AM PST by mazda77
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To: knarf

This little patch of riches is like showing the cross to Dracula.


4 posted on 02/09/2014 5:06:11 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Wow.
When did YOUR vote actually accomplish anything?

Mebbie there’s hope yet.


5 posted on 02/09/2014 5:08:28 AM PST by Flintlock ( islam is a LIE, mohammed was a CRIMINAL, shira is POISON.)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Year before last we visited Monahans Texas, just west of Odessa. At the suggestion of a pipe fitter I met camping in the state park, we hung around two days exploring the booming Permian Basin drill sites to the north near Kermit.

He was in the state park because he was having trouble finding permanent space. The RV parks were all full and even overflowing with worker trailers.

He had come there from Pennsylvania where he got fed up with the political wackos interfering with the work. (His permanent home was Missouri) He would come to work to discover it had been shut down for some reason or other. That meant he lost pay.

In Texas there was too much work. He could work 24/7 if he could stand it.


6 posted on 02/09/2014 5:21:14 AM PST by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... History is a process, not an event)
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To: mazda77

Or live like a king (and my queen) expatted in the Philippines.


7 posted on 02/09/2014 5:28:13 AM PST by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: bert

People need to be productive (work and produce) for emotional as well as financial reasons.

Obama’s crowd wants to cripple people with their “liberating” Obamacare-gives-you-freedom-to-quit-your-job poison.


8 posted on 02/09/2014 5:30:32 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Local zoning is a power used by local tyrants and local crony capitalists. Zoning laws need to be reigned in and simplified. Nobody should have their life turned over to a government bureaucrat aka a disinterested 3rd party.


9 posted on 02/09/2014 5:47:43 AM PST by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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Comment #10 Removed by Moderator

To: 1010RD

The local politics in W. Pennsylvania is the fly in the ointment. Most local politcos in this area are 4th generation progressive Democrat. Add to that, the coal miner union mentality and you have the formula for keeping everyone poor and dependent on government. There’s a “town meeting” somewhere every damn week, featuring some college professor who has the proof that fracking ruins the water table, causes cancer and two headed children. IOW, there’s not much that’s dumber than W. PA.


11 posted on 02/09/2014 6:02:52 AM PST by Segovia
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To: 1010RD

The local politics in W. Pennsylvania is the fly in the ointment. Most local politcos in this area are 4th generation progressive Democrat. Add to that, the coal miner union mentality and you have the formula for keeping everyone poor and dependent on government. There’s a “town meeting” somewhere every damn week, featuring some college professor who has the proof that fracking ruins the water table, causes cancer and two headed children. IOW, there’s not much that’s dumber than W. PA.


12 posted on 02/09/2014 6:04:14 AM PST by Segovia
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To: 1010RD

The local politics in W. Pennsylvania is the fly in the ointment. Most local politcos in this area are 4th generation progressive Democrat. Add to that, the coal miner union mentality and you have the formula for keeping everyone poor and dependent on government. There’s a “town meeting” somewhere every damn week, featuring some college professor who has the proof that fracking ruins the water table, causes cancer and two headed children. IOW, there’s not much that’s dumber than W. PA.


13 posted on 02/09/2014 6:05:20 AM PST by Segovia
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To: 1010RD

The local politics in W. Pennsylvania is the fly in the ointment. Most local politcos in this area are 4th generation progressive Democrat. Add to that, the coal miner union mentality and you have the formula for keeping everyone poor and dependent on government. There’s a “town meeting” somewhere every damn week, featuring some college professor who has the proof that fracking ruins the water table, causes cancer and two headed children. IOW, there’s not much that’s dumber than W. PA.


14 posted on 02/09/2014 6:06:13 AM PST by Segovia
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To: 1010RD

The local politics in W. Pennsylvania is the fly in the ointment. Most local politcos in this area are 4th generation progressive Democrat. Add to that, the coal miner union mentality and you have the formula for keeping everyone poor and dependent on government. There’s a “town meeting” somewhere every damn week, featuring some college professor who has the proof that fracking ruins the water table, causes cancer and two headed children. IOW, there’s not much that’s dumber than W. PA.


15 posted on 02/09/2014 6:17:08 AM PST by Segovia
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To: Segovia

It’s worth repeating, but you’re not alone. All zoning laws, along with licensing/permitting are tools to control individual liberty. They form a local tyranny as bad as anything Obama’s doing.

They’re used by politicians to please crony capitalists and maintain the status quo. Bureaucrats love them because they remove any thinking or responsibility.


16 posted on 02/09/2014 6:44:47 AM PST by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: Segovia

“...there’s not much that’s dumber than W. PA.”

You mean other than E. PA?


17 posted on 02/09/2014 7:11:19 AM PST by Patriot95
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To: Segovia

Don’t you find it interesting that after declaring the Pittsburgh city region off limits to drilling, our pathetic child ex-mayor now wants to start a consulting firm specializing in the oil & gas industry. May he starve in that venture.


18 posted on 02/09/2014 7:21:22 AM PST by RS_Rider (I hate Illinois Nazis)
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To: knarf

“My 2.25 acres just gave me my first two month (oct/nov) check ... $2,924.00”

Sweet!


19 posted on 02/09/2014 7:24:25 AM PST by catnipman (Cat Nipman: Vote Republican in 2012 and only be called racist one more time!)
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To: knarf

GOOD FOR KNARF!

Feels much better to pay an American Citizen for the energy I use!
Thanks!


20 posted on 02/09/2014 7:46:49 AM PST by DUMBGRUNT
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

At a gas field in cetral Arkansas. Gas drilling was stopped for decades because of an incident back in the 1920s.

A gas company was drilling on a farm and hit gas. The well suddenly ignited and there was a column of FIRE coming out of the ground!

All those backwoods hillbillies just knew the gas company had drilled into HELL and the Devil was coming out to get them!

When the well was finally plugged, the company could not get a lease to drill anywhere in the area till the 1990s.


21 posted on 02/09/2014 7:58:52 AM PST by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

Arkansas is the anus of the United States, excreting the second worst president yet to occupy our White House.


22 posted on 02/09/2014 8:04:52 AM PST by RS_Rider (I hate Illinois Nazis)
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To: RS_Rider

***Arkansas is the anus of the United States, excreting the second worst president yet to occupy our White House.***

Close to the truth fifty years ago. Now Walmart money has attracted the best and brightest from across the USA so the NW Corner of the state is not bad. The rest...?

As for the second worst president, I had a chance to rectify that back in 1969 but didn’t. I was to meet a girl at the U of A in Fayetteville at her dorm. I sat and sat.

On Dickson Street, there was an anti-war demonstration in which a naked guy climbed a tree. That naked fool was a young Bill Clinton (A man I worked with years later interviewed him for a news story).

If I had foresight, I would walked down there, grabbed a red Arkansaw rock and knocked him out of that tree and saved the future USA from him.

The girl I waited on never showed.


23 posted on 02/09/2014 8:25:27 AM PST by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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24 posted on 02/09/2014 9:11:49 AM PST by RedMDer (are sHappy with this, America? Make your voices heard. 2014 is just around the corner. ~ Sarah Palin)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

For those who want to see a 6 minute video showing how horizontal drilling and fracking is done, Northern Gas and Oil has done a great one.

It includes a visual piece on how fresh water aquifers are protected from contamination.

http://www.northernoil.com/drilling-video

Knowledge is power, keep the link and pass it on.


25 posted on 02/09/2014 9:14:45 AM PST by Balding_Eagle (Over production, one of the top 5 worries for the American Farmer every year.)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

There is a lot of lead in Arkansas. I wonder if they filter their water. It’s a beautiful state, though.


26 posted on 02/09/2014 9:52:37 AM PST by huldah1776
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To: Segovia
I'm not so sure you know what you're talking about.

We're talking about fracking and the gas industry and we're reaping some rewards.

Check with me in a year or so to see if I made a bad decision ... they paid me 13, 3something at the signing a year and a half ago and I just posted my check

Looks to be about 13 or 14 hunnert a month.

Boy ... was I stupid ... what was I THINKING !!!?

27 posted on 02/09/2014 11:43:12 AM PST by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: Balding_Eagle

very good video ... I’m retired sand can driver.


28 posted on 02/09/2014 11:51:59 AM PST by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
People need to be productive (work and produce) for emotional as well as financial reasons.

Obama’s crowd wants to cripple people with their “liberating” Obamacare-gives-you-freedom-to-quit-your-job poison.

Hear, hear! Note, however, that that is a distinctly American attitude.
In American Beliefs: What Keeps a Big Country and a Diverse People United, John Harmon McElroy notes that there were four main colonial powers in America, and each of them found different things and wanted to do different things: The conclusion is that Americans respect any honest work. If you reflect on English costume drama, you will realize that we didn't get that attitude from England - where the emphasis was on who you were rather than what you did - but in the American melieu where people who were respected because they were useful, and were respected for the caluses on their hands.

29 posted on 02/09/2014 2:16:14 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion ("Liberalism” is a conspiracy against the public by wire-service journalism.)
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To: bert

I had spent a lot of time in the past 2 years working between Monahans and Lovington. Railroad work. Grueling... but my God Hobbs is booming like nothing I have seen in my whole life... The Domino’s in Hobbs was advertising for delivery drivers at $16/hr. The McDonald’s in Monahans was about the same... to start.


30 posted on 02/09/2014 7:06:09 PM PST by Rodamala
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To: Segovia

there’s not much that’s dumber than W. PA.

I am laughing. Hard. Do I need really need to say it?


31 posted on 02/09/2014 7:08:12 PM PST by Rodamala
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To: knarf

I’m not so sure you know jack shit. I have a gas well on my farm.


32 posted on 02/10/2014 9:21:14 PM PST by Segovia
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To: Rodamala

I’ll assume you are referring to the multiple posts; I assure you that I clicked on “post” once. Since I’ve seen this happen to others in here also, I think it must be some sort of glitch with the internet connection. Go ahead and laugh if it makes you feel better.


33 posted on 02/10/2014 9:30:05 PM PST by Segovia
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To: Rodamala
I had spent a lot of time in the past 2 years working between Monahans and Lovington. Railroad work. Grueling...

Are they bringing the old T&NM back to life? The last time I was in Hobbs, the railroad was two streaks of rust buried in the dirt.

Recommend the Cattle Baron...

34 posted on 02/10/2014 9:46:55 PM PST by okie01 (The Mainstream Media -- IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: Segovia
Aren't you getting paid ?

Or, judgeing from your reply ... has the local gummint interfered with payment?

Otherwise, your reply makes no sense to me ... I get 19%

35 posted on 02/11/2014 2:17:23 AM PST by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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