Last week, Jessup residents may have seen some pretty sensational headlines suggesting that two members of the Council stand to personally profit from the construction of the Lackawanna Energy Center. Despite opponents’ attempts to dredge up a “gotcha” story, the facts once again don’t support their claims.
Here are the facts: In 2008, the Buckhorn Rod and Gun Club leased 309 acres in Oakland Township to a gas company for drilling. One Borough Council member and the husband of another were among club members who could receive a small percentage of royalties if gas production takes place on the land. So far, the wells on the property haven’t produced anything, and the Council members and their families haven’t received a dollar.
Even if there were productive wells, claims that club members would personally profit from construction of the Lackawanna Energy Center don’t stand up to scrutiny. Given the abundance of supply and the vast pipeline network that serves the region, the addition of the Lackawanna Energy Center won’t measurably increase gas prices. Don’t just take our word for it. As the Scranton Times-Tribune noted in its July 16, 2015 story:
To argue their gas leases would present a conflict of interest in voting on a curative amendment for the plant, the opposition would need an expert to testify that approving Invenergy’s curative amendment would have some effect on the price of gas, [Stephen Saunders, a Scranton oil and gas attorney] said.
“I would suspect that it would be almost impossible for them to get a petroleum economist … to testify that this would have even a negligible impact on the price,” he said.
The desperate attempt by Lackawanna Energy Center opponents to sow the seeds of doubt with these claims reflect a pretty basic misunderstanding about how the energy market works. It’s like suggesting that any Council member who has lights and a refrigerator in their home is conflicted because they will personally profit from the price of electricity falling once the plant is built – in other words, it’s nonsense.
These allegations only serve to divide the community by dragging the names of dedicated public servants though the mud. Jessup residents deserve better, and they deserve the facts.