Range Resources Corp. has agreed to a $1.75 million settlement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for failure to keep proper water withdrawal records and for exceeding the amount of water withdrawal allowed for its natural gas drilling under a state-approved plan.
The settlement will find Range paying a civil penalty of $800,000 and providing nearly $950,000 in funding for an environmental rehabilitation project in southwest Pennsylvania. In a unique move, Range, which could have paid less for the violations under state regulations, proposed funding the project itself.
DEP said Range violated a water management plan the agency approved in July 2009. From then, until February 2014, DEP said Range did not record daily maximum water withdrawals. The agency also said the plan required the company to report water withdrawal rates electronically to a state database. The information provided, DEP said, was often different from or not supported by existing records.
"Range notified the DEP immediately upon discovering these issues and promptly took additional steps to better manage water withdrawals and regulatory reporting," the company said. "The DEP approved Range's new protocols in February of 2014, which are intended to prevent this issue from occurring again...Range reorganized and refocused specific employees to provide greater oversight of water management and regulatory compliance."
As part of the settlement, Range will fund the rehabilitation, expansion and operation of the Hamilton Abandoned Mine Treatment System in Allegheny County. The system was constructed in 2003 to treat water and reduce the impact of mine drainage into a watershed. It has since fallen into disrepair. Range will pay $758,089 for its rehabilitation and another $191,000 for long-term operation and maintenance.
Range will be required to submit progress reports to the DEP, and the project will not allow the company to make any related tax deductions.
The settlement comes just months after the DEP fined Range $4.15 million for a series of violations at six of the company's water impoundments in southwest Pennsylvania (see Shale Daily, Sept. 19, 2014).