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Range Spokesman Calls Deposition of EPA a 'Breakthrough'

January 27, 2011
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If Range Resources Corp. is reading it right, Tuesday's deposition by the company of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employee in an ongoing Barnett Shale well water contamination case is proof that it's good to talk things out.

Since December, when EPA said in an emergency order that Range contaminated Barnett Shale area water wells with its gas drilling operations (see Shale Daily, Dec. 9, 2010), Range has maintained its innocence and lamented that it had no opportunity to provide input into EPA's investigation. That apparently changed Tuesday in the U.S. Attorney's office in New Orleans during a nearly day-long deposition of an EPA representative.

"At the end of the day, all parties will have all of the facts," Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella told NGI's Shale Daily, adding that ultimately he expects there to be agreement "that Range's operations were not the cause of this issue.

"It was a real breakthrough for us in terms of discussion and dialogue that we were able to have as part of this deposition. We look forward to continuing the discussion to actually look at the facts."

Pitzarella said the company hopes to file a transcript of the deposition with the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) by the end of the week. The RRC has left its investigation open following a hearing last week to allow Range to enter depositions of EPA and others (see Shale Daily, Jan. 20). The RRC case could be resolved by some time in April, Pitzarella said, noting that this could also resolve Range's battle with the EPA.

"I don't envision this to be a long, dragged-out type of an issue, at least we're hopeful," Pitzarella said.

A U.S. Department of Justice spokesman would not comment on the deposition Wednesday.

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