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OpEd: Spectra Energy: Trust Facts Not Promises

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- The Peekskill Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Please send letters to peekskill@dailyvoice.com .

Speaking from experience with Spectra Energy, property owners and communities can expect the company (NYSE: SE) will not do what it says it will in terms of transparency and accountability; and the company will develop amnesia when questioned about its actual track record relating to safety and federal fines.  Managing by fact is simple. If communities and local governments want to know what to expect from Spectra Energy, ask folks who live with its facilities today.  For example, property owners in Bedford County, Pa. (about two hours from Washington, D.C.), have been dealing with Spectra Energy for five years. Spectra Energy's facility there (called Steckman Ridge) is a 12 billion-cubic-foot underground natural gas storage reservoir, with a nearly 5,000-horsepower compressor station, 13 injection/withdrawal wells and lengthy pipelines in and out of the facility.  This facility stores and pumps shale gas through transmission pipelines across several states. Compressor stations are a fact of life along gas transmission pipelines.  A ring of health, water and operational complaints surround this Spectra Energy facility that began operations in 2009.  To cite one example, on March 9-10, 2013, residents living near that facility called 9-1-1 in response to firecracker-like noises and what appeared to be smoke coming from the company's compressor station. Fire trucks rolled to the scene. Spectra Energy's first response from Marylee Hanley, its dismissive director of stakeholder outreach was, "Nothing was released. There was no smoke. No incident.” By the next day, the company admitted there was a release of methane and other hydrocarbons; but Andrea Grover, another director of stakeholder outreach, claimed only a "small volume" was released. To this day, the company refuses to say publicly how much was released.  However, through their own efforts property owners learned Spectra Energy’s uncontrolled leak amounted to 431.5-thousand cubic feet of natural gas vented to the atmosphere over a two-day period. Hardly a "small volume," as Spectra Energy's Andrea Grover maintained to the Associate Editor of the Bedford Gazette.  Where Spectra Energy is concerned, never trust promises – always examine its track record. Mike Benard, founder of Shale Property Rights, a property rights blog, is a former gas leaseholder in Pennsylvania who fought eminent domain for two years. He lives in Rochester, NY. Website: www.shalepropertyrights.com/blog/

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