In an editorial in today's Scranton Times, former Governor Rendell writes, "During my time as governor of Pennsylvania and mayor of Philadelphia, I often had to decide whether to site various forms of development that often met with legitimate community apprehension."
The Governor continues, "Sometimes it seemed like almost all new developments were prone to the “not in my backyard” syndrome. I do not believe that is the case with those who oppose the new state-of-the-art combined-cycle natural gas power plant that is proposed to be built in Jessup.
All forms of energy production have potential downsides and these citizens have the right to be concerned.
I believe, however, that this natural gas power plant is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform an isolated, vacant property in Jessup into a safe, productive engine of economic growth. At the same time, I believe it can be built with more than adequate protection of the public’s health and air quality.
The plant cannot and will not be built without complying with the EPA’s national ambient air quality standards, which are designed to protect even the most vulnerable members of the population, including the elderly, children, and people with respiratory conditions like asthma.
This project definitely will help us transition to much cleaner energy. Though natural gas is a fossil fuel, using it as a source to generate energy is far safer than getting our energy from coal or petroleum.
I know there is a dispute about the best location for this plant if it is, in fact, to be built. It is my understanding that the proposed site is more than 2,000 feet from the nearest residence, located on the far side of the Casey Highway.
The exact same kinds of natural gas power plants have been built in Bethlehem and Reading, actually much closer to developments in those communities. And in more than 10 years of operation there have been no negative consequences whatsoever. In that 10-year period, both technology and air quality regulations have progressed even further, so that a brand new, state of the art plant like this will be a safe and productive part of the Jessup community for decades to come.
This is an important part of our transition to a new era of cleaner energy and cleaner air for all our residents.
It undoubtedly is true that the project also will be great for the local economy. Its construction will take 30 months and will involve 600 union labor jobs. When fully operational it will require 30 operations and maintenance jobs starting at $27 per hour, with a total annual payroll of $4 million. Over the 40-year life of the project, the Borough of Jessup, Lackawanna County and the Valley View schools will receive more than $50 million in revenue, which could be used to lower local property taxes.
I realize that I am an outsider and in no way a decision-maker anymore, but I still care very much about our state continuing to create good-paying, middle class jobs while moving towards a cleaner energy economy. I believe the proposed plant will achieve both of those important goals."