June 2019 was an interesting month for Range Resources, a high profile fracking operation. The gas drilling company settled one legal dispute in Washington County, PA, just as another one started up.
In 2012, 3 families in the western Pennsylvania county filed suit against Range Resources. Stacey Haney, Beth Voyles and Loren Kiskadden claimed that Range’s fracking caused contamination in both the air and water, which led to arsenic poisoning for a child and the death of a dog and goat.
Vindication for the families started to come in 2014 when the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection hit Range with a fine of over $4 million for violations that included the wastewater impoundment near the plaintiffs’ homes. A settlement was eventually reached, with the plaintiffs getting a $3 million payout.
Terms of the settlement were supposed to be confidential, but a computer error in Washington County resulted in enterprising reporters being able to access details of the settlement. It was the latest strange turn for a case that’s been in the public eye thanks to a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Amity & Prosperity, which explains the ordeal the families went through.
The settlement reportedly left the plaintiffs unsatisfied and it didn’t remove Range Resources from the public eye.
A gas well they are building in Washington County is the subject of protests by residents. The fracking will take place about 1,000 feet from the New Windsor Woods residential community.
This new well is outside the 500 feet required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But residents of New Windsor Woods, a newly-developed area, insist they wouldn’t have bought homes there had they known Range Resources would be fracking so close. Protestors have argued that wind patterns will funnel contamination squarely into their backyards.
Fracking continues to be a hot-button topic in energy development just as Range Resources’ work in Washington Country continues to be at the eye of the storm.