Jul 9 2009

Spectra in York, PA

Spectra Energy = Invasive Species
Attacks Environment & Property Values

In York County, Pennsylvania, Texas Eastern – a pipeline company owned by Spectra Energy – is pursuing a proposed natural gas pipeline project that will connect with Steckman Ridge.  If my arithmetic is correct, Spectra Energy will add 36.1 miles of new pipeline (36- and 30-inch diameter); and replace 25.9 miles of existing 24-inch pipeline with larger 36-inch diameter pipe.

Part of this pipeline threatens to destroy portions of what is known as the Canopy Woodland Corridor in Hellam Township.  That is in addition to private property invasion.  And of course, it didn’t take Spectra long to veer off the existing utility right-of-way.

You can follow it on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) website under the project name of TEMAX and TIME III (Docket number CP09-68).  In the meantime, here is the link to a project summary on Spectra Energy’s website: http://www.spectraenergy.com/what_we_do/temax_timeiii

Spectra Energy describes this as a “growth project” – the growth of an invasive species where property rights are concerned.

Property owners in York County are getting energized.  You can tell that they are fast learners as one property owner said, they already “have a good sense of the Spectra ‘charm’ and … they do not trust them or believe anything they say.”

For property owners everywhere who deal with energy companies – whether for pipelines, underground storage fields or drilling, here are four watch outs in terms of behavior:

1) Beware of the ‘charm offensive’ — Energy company representatives – Spectra Energy, for example – go out of their way to be polite, up to a point.  In fact, they substitute good manners for fair treatment of property owners.

2) Beware of ‘divide & conquer’ – Energy companies prefer to isolate and separate property owners; and they always prefer to deal privately with government entities (whether at the township or the state level).

3) Compare offers and & check your wallet — Government entities almost always get a better deal than private property owners.  This is the quiet secret of the energy industry.  Make sure any deals with government are in the public domain.  For more information, refer to our blog on the “Landowner Bill of Rights.”  (See section 1 a, b, and c).  Here is the link: http://www.spectraenergywatch.com/blog/?p=287

4) Do not depend on the ‘kindness of strangers’ — Stay involved, informed and active.  You are your own best advocate for your property rights.  Join with other property owners to raise your voice and demand a level playing field.

Reporter Carl Lindquist of The York Dispatch published a clear and comprehensive article on the current state of the pipeline and its impact on property owners.  Here is a pdf file of the article:  pipeline-york-dispatch6-22-09

In his news report, Lindquist said that some 270 properties “could be affected.”

Among them are Susie Buchmyer’s family.  Their home sits on two acres of mostly wooded land.  The underground gas pipeline – approximately 3 feet in diameter – not only threatens a wide swath of mature trees, but also their septic system and driveway.

By the way, we’re talking about a 50-feet-wide cut for the right of way.  That is wider than the minimum width of two lanes on an interstate.  And once that property is seized and the pipeline is buried, there will be restrictions on how property owners can use that stretch of their own property:  No re-planting of trees, no building.  But they will still have the privilege of paying taxes on property they are restricted from using.

Property owner Susie Buchmyer is quoted in the article as saying:

“I think I have to speak loudly enough to let them (the company) know I’m a force to be reckoned with,” she said.  “I want to get them as (least) invasive as I can on my property. … I’m going to battle them the best I can in whatever way I can,” she said.

Separately, she told this blogger, “Spectra Energy is an invasive species similar to gypsy moths.  How ironic that I had my trees sprayed three weeks ago in order to protect them from this blight and, under the power of eminent domain, Spectra Energy would have the right to destroy them.”

Currently, Spectra Energy is tip toeing around the threat of eminent domain or “taking” the property rights of landowners; but FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen acknowledges that “the use of eminent domain is common” for natural gas pipelines, according to the article.

Just ask property owners who have dealt with Spectra Energy elsewhere.

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.