Mt. Pleasant man loses latest appeal to stop farm’s sale

Mt. Pleasant man loses latest appeal to stop farm’s sale by Christie Campbell, January 21, 2011, Observer Reporter
A local man who claims gas drilling operations ruined his farm has lost his latest appeal in an attempt to stop the driller from purchasing his property. As a result, Range Resources has purchased Ron Gulla’s Mt. Pleasant Township farm for $1.52 million. On Wednesday, Gulla was to have vacated his 141-acre farm off McCarrell Road, where Range drilled its second horizontal well in 2006. Gulla has been outspoken in his opposition to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, claiming the process used on his property polluted his pond, ruined the land for future farming and jeopardized his family’s health.

The lawsuit had actually been filed by Range when Gulla failed to turn over the deed to the property after signing a sales agreement. Gulla claimed Range had agreed to help him purchase another farm but failed to disclose that there was an oil and gas lease on that farm. Range denies that claim.

Pitzarella said the company had drilled previous vertical wells on Gulla’s property with no complaint. But when the horizontal well came online, natural gas was selling at an all-time high, and he believes Gulla was hoping to reap more benefits. Gulla says simply that the company has continually lied to him. It wasn’t until he saw tanks with skulls and crossbones on them that he realized deadly chemicals were being used on his property. He claims Range had agreed to assist him in obtaining an alternate property, known as the Smith farm on Fort Cherry Road, and then failed to disclose its mineral rights were leased. Range denies this, and the lower court’s initial ruling was that even if it were true, it was never included in the written sales agreement.

Gulla appealed the suit to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. When he lost there, he appealed it to the state Supreme Court, which denied his appeal in November. Gulla said he had been the victim of corporate lies and attorneys too closely associated with gas operators.

“This whole thing is so clear to me now. They treated my farm so badly because they wanted it. They wanted the water rights off of it,” he said.

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