A Washington County, Pennsylvania homeowner from one of the townships represented by Attorney John Smith offers her views on what’s going on and has a few things to say about Representative Jesse White as well.
My name is Janice Gibbs. I was born and raised in Cecil Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania and have raised my family approximately a mile from where I grew up and a stone’s throw from my grandparents farm. Both of my grandparents were farmers and because of my father’s love of growing vegetables to feed the family, and hundreds of daffodils and blue spruce trees, I also grew up loving the land. Now we have a fifth generation growing up in Cecil Township – my granddaughter.
A day spent in the outdoors enjoying what nature gives us is never a day wasted. I feel this is important because I don’t want people to think because I support natural gas development, I don’t care about the environment. I do. And, second, I have no gas lease so, with me, money is not involved. For me it is what’s best for our township, county, state and most of all for our country to become energy independent. This doesn’t mean I don’t want responsible development. That has to be at the top of the list, in fact. If by any chance the industry causes any damage they need to make things right and, based on what I see, I feel they will.
When I started to learn about hydraulic fracturing and natural gas development in our area, it had to do with the compressor station they wanted to build on Route 980 a short distance from my present home. At first, I was a little skeptical. I didn’t know much about the natural gas industry or hydraulic fracturing and what affects it might have on the environment. I started to attend township meetings in 2011 and began my research about the industry. I read many articles concerning both sides of the issue.
My first contact with Range Resources was February 9, 2011 when they attended a Cecil Township (see map to right) meeting where the township proposed changing the classification of this activity from a permitted use to a conditional use in their ordinance. There were a few back and forth changes between the Range Resources representative and the chairman of the board of supervisors, with nothing resolved.
After that meeting, Range Resources returned several times and at each meeting there was a different list of items the township didn’t like about their proposals. Month after month, the delays regarding the ordinance continued. It was finally made a conditional use in September, 2011, and then the talks with Range Resources broke down. Watching this go down, I noticed several of our supervisors and their solicitor had no intention to compromise. It was their way or no way. The compressor station project on Route 980 has ended up in the court system.
Along came Act 13 and I believed that this would be a good thing for the gas industry to have a level playing field instead of different laws from township to township. However, with the help of Attorney John Smith and a few of our supervisors, our township is now suing the state. About this time is when I heard our Representative Jesse White state “I’m for drilling. I am for jobs” but I have yet to find one article that he has written that supports this comment.
Cecil township is now at a stand still with natural gas development on hold and lease holders who just want to sell what they own, their natural gas rights, waiting. Our neighboring township of Robinson, which Range has also asked for permits to be approved is now getting the same runaround and delay after delay.
You have to ask yourself why are Cecil and Robinson delaying development when townships like Chartiers are going full steam ahead? What is the common link? Could be the their shared solicitor? Could it be some supervisors who are just not thrilled with the industry and have personal agendas to stop it? What you hear from these parties is “we have never denied a permit” but you can bet they are making it as difficult as possible. Also, click on this link to see how Rep. Jesse White commented on an article when a group of citizens had a meeting to discuss issues in there township and see who is dividing the community. It seems he doesn’t like public input from constituents like me.