Apr 8 2009

Pious Mouse Wash 1

Energy Industry:  We Didn’t Do Nothing

The above sentiment captures the view of landowners in Bedford County, PA, who have suggested that Spectra Energy needs a new slogan to run beneath its corporate name plate:  “We didn’t do nothing.”

In January, Spectra Energy filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the results of its self investigation into complaints about abusive and unethical behavior toward landowners during the Steckman Ridge Project.  A pdf file of the “Inquiry Report” is attached.  spectra-energy-inquiry-report-1-091

The resulting 32-page document is an illustration of the ancient proverb about the mountain laboring mightily and bringing forth a mouse.

A pious mouse to be sure.

On p. 27 of the document (p. 30 of pdf), readers are treated to the Webster dictionary definition of “lying” to support the company’s assertion that, “There is no evidence of willful ‘lying’ by any Project Representative to landowners.”  The document goes on:

“The verb to lie, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, is defined as, ‘to make an untrue statement with the intent to deceive.’  Allegations of lying typically involve a ‘he said/she said’ scenario or in the case of response to a question which is provided within the context of a general statements [sic] in lieu of technical or specific detailed response.”

[“Inquiry Report – Response to Benard Allegations,”
filed with FERC January 22, 2009
p. 27 of document, p. 30 of pdf, “Allegation #4, Finding 9”]

Got that?

The statement is so labored you can hear the heavy breathing of ten gas industry lawyers behind it.  Do half-truths, statements of omission, and dissembling have separate definitions?  (In contrast, listen to the landowners’ stories on the video that runs on the About Us page of this website, as well as on YouTube.)

The 32-page “Inquiry Report” is so bad it’s good, in terms of what it reveals about Spectra Energy and the natural gas industry.  At least 5 or 6 highly paid executives were involved in the production of this document, originally promised on June 11, 2008 by former CEO Fred Fowler (who is still on the board of directors and who received nearly $5 million in compensation last year, according to the Associated Press).

One can assume that many more hands were touching, sanding, and refitting the nouns and verbs for the final version.

Hold that thought:  Does any reasonable person believe that Spectra Energy – or any company in the natural gas industry – is going to produce an “independent” inquiry report that will find the company liable in some manner?

Any manner?  A teeny-tiny bit?

In future blog posts, we’ll break down an analysis of the pious mouse into easily digestible chunks.  Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Pious Mouse on Friday, April 10.

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