To suggest in the editorial “Rendell’s gas leases: Public be damned” (Sept. 7 and TribLIVE.com) that recent state forest land leases are anything but in Pennsylvanians’ best interest shows the Trib lacks an understanding of the facts and what these agreements mean for protecting our treasured public lands.
In May, Anadarko Inc. paid $4,000 per acre to lease 27,185 acres — the same average price Pennsylvania received in a competitive lease sale in January — plus $2,000 per acre for 5,711 other acres that are not as promising for production and probably would not have yielded as much if bid competitively.
A separate January agreement with Anadarko for land in Sproul State Forest generated $2.3 million at a price that was competitive at the time the deal was negotiated — nine months before it was finalized. The editorial’s claim that these agreements “cost taxpayers dearly” is pure speculation and not rooted in reality.
The bottom line is that because Anadarko held leases on adjacent tracts, these transactions made the most sense and limited the risks to our state forests. Instead of disturbing 1,000 acres, the May deal will affect fewer than 300 acres, which is in the best interests of the state’s citizens without question.
The writer is secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.