A Slap in the Face to Pennsylvania Taxpayers

The Tribune Review revisits the Rendell Administration’s leasing tens of thousands of acres of state forest lands via no-bid contracts.

State records the Tribune-Review obtained show that, in one noncompetitive agreement Jan. 7 with Texas gas company Anadarko, the state received $1,000 an acre for 2,300 acres in Sproul State Forest, in Centre and Clinton counties.

Two weeks later on Jan. 19, a public auction of 31,976 acres in Cameron, Clearfield, Potter, Clinton and Tioga counties generated $128 million, or about $4,000 an acre, for taxpayers.

A similar situation occurred in May, when another no-bid contract with Anadarko resulted in a lease of 33,000 acres at an average $3,650 an acre. Greg Wrightstone, a petroleum geologists notes private landholders were getting $5,000 to $6,000 acres at the same time.

Both of these private, no-bid lease schemes … were consummated at less than market-bonus rates, Wrightstone said, calling the deals “a slap in the face to Pennsylvania taxpayers.”

As we’ve blogged in the past, Gov. Rendell’s no-bid deals — in light of a budget crisis, pension crisis, and transportation crisis — smack of corruption. And yet he wonders why lawmakers don’t support his push for higher taxes.