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Stop the DPU scheme that would force residents to pay for pipeline construction

7 Apr

(Bob Croce is Chair of the pipeline opposition group Peabody Citizens United, and a candidate for State Representative in the 13th Essex District. Click here to read more about Bob on Facebook. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobCroce4Rep.)

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

For more than a year, we’ve been educating residents about the potentially devastating quality of life and environmental impacts posed by the multiple natural gas pipelines proposed for the Commonwealth.

pipelineWe’ve all heard how these pipelines would put the safety of residents in jeopardy, violate basic homeowner rights and threaten public drinking water for 350,000 North Shore residents within the Ipswich River Watershed.

But there is one aspect on which we haven’t focused enough:

The Department of Public Utilities, an appointed group of state bureaucrats – most of whom are former utilities industry executives – last year passed Docket 15-37, a scheme that will allow electric companies to pass the cost of this new gas infrastructure on to consumers in the form of a surcharge or “tariff” on our electric bills.

Putting it simply, companies such as Kinder Morgan and Spectra will build these new pipelines, and we will pay for the cost of construction. The argument for the tariff is that these pipeline companies are doing us a favor by helping us meet demand and lower the cost of natural gas and our electric bills. The estimated cost alone of Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, passed onto consumers, could be $8 billion.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen, through a comprehensive study published by Attorney General Maura Healey, how this massive expansion of natural gas pipeline infrastructure was unnecessary from a demand and economic perspective, and could slow our progress toward a clean, renewable energy future.

The Conservation Law Foundation and others are now challenging in court whether the DPU has the authority to enforce such a tariff. But the DPU might also have a powerful ally, who could help the agency achieve a bullet proof defense of this surcharge.

Rep. Patricia Haddad (D-Somerset) – who is Speaker Pro Tempore in the MA House — filed legislation (H.2881) this session, which contained language that would essentially make this tariff law.

With Kinder Morgan’s proposed NED pipeline, which directly threatens the 13th Essex District communities of Danvers, Middleton and Peabody, we’ve seen convincing evidence that most – if not all – of the gas transported is destined for export to Canada and then lucrative European Markets. By the way, some experts feel that this export scenario would actually raise the cost of gas in our region, since the price would be set by demand on foreign markets.

While the courts decide whether the DPU has abused its power, and hopefully strike down Docket 15-37, here’s hoping that legislators across the Commonwealth do not incorporate the tariff language in their omnibus energy bill!

Forcing the residents of the Commonwealth to pay for pipelines we don’t need, while companies such as Kinder Morgan make profits on this gas through an export scheme, is obscene and un-American.

NED pipeline would imperil Ipswich, put North Shore drinking water supplies at risk

26 Jan

(Bob Croce is Chair of Peabody Citizens United, and a candidate for State Representative in the MA 13th Essex District.)

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

I’ve used this space over the past year to talk about the critically important homeowner rights and safety issues surrounding Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline. But today, I’d like to bring up a concern that should be front and center, not just in Peabody, Danvers and Middleton, but throughout the North Shore.

Protecting our public drinking water supply.

riverWe should remind ourselves of the tragedy of Flint, Mich., and come to a consensus that locating this pipeline within the Ipswich Watershed District is just too much of a risk for the half million North Shore residents who draw water from this endangered river. Now is the time for our North Shore elected leaders to unite and lobby the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to not approve this new gas pipeline infrastructure for an area so vital to the health and well being of our communities.

Here are the facts on the pipeline and the river from the stewards of the river, the Ipswich Watershed Association:

The proposed Lynnfield and Peabody lateral sections of the NED pipeline will be constructed within the Ipswich River Watershed, and it will:

  • Traverse the watershed for more than 11 miles, cross the river and dozens of named and unnamed tributaries
  • Traverse more than two miles of wetlands, alter dozens of vernal pools
  • Be built directly on the riverbank for more than two miles
  • Be built in the immediate proximity of seven public permanently-protected water supply intakes and traverse hundreds of acres of permanently protected conservation areas, including several parcels protected by Article 97 of the Massachusetts State Constitution.
  • Temporarily clear 131.5 acres of land during construction and permanently alter 65.8 acres in the required pipeline easement. The pipeline will significantly disrupt the underground hydrology of the watershed, which is critical to its function as well as the hundreds of public and private water supply intakes in the immediate vicinity of its route.

Once constructed, Kinder Morgan will continuously use herbicides to keep the pipeline right-of-way clear of vegetation, and there are no studies showing what negative effects that could have on the source of our drinking water. Then there’s the danger of leaking pipes allowing toxic methane to seep into our water.

If anyone thinks the dangers here only affect “a couple of streets” in Peabody, think again. The proposed NED pipeline should be a regional concern.

 

 

Asking our legislators to stand with the people, and stand against Kinder Morgan

10 Nov

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

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Residents from western Mass. urge legislators to uphold Article 97

BOSTON – Spending my day today in solidarity with the residents of Sandisfield in southwestern Mass., who fill the Gardner Auditorium at the State House to implore legislators to reject bill H.3690. That bill seeks to set aside Article 97 protection so that a Texas-based gas pipeline company — run by the guy who used to run Enron – can essentially jeopardize their scenic Mayberry-like community of less than 900 year-round residents.

Article 97 of the Mass. State Constitution says that lands set aside for conservation cannot be used for any other purposes without a two thirds disposition vote of both the House and Senate on Beacon Hill. It is our only hope as residents of the Commonwealth to fight back against not only Kinder Morgan and its notorious CEO Richard Kinder – who helped create that mess that was Enron – but also a five-person appointed board in Washington, DC, called The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Even though there is overwhelming public opposition to this pipeline — which will slash through Massachusetts and southern NH — FERC is expected to grant approval to build Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline Project.

But back in the Texas offices of Kinder Morgan, they probably should be saying “Houston, we have a problem.”

After all, Article 97 battles are setting up all over the Commonwealth, as KM seeks to take as many as 100 environmentally protected parcels for a project that will be of no benefit to the residents of Massachusetts. Since our Independence Greenway bike path is set aside conservation land, we could end up having our own day too here on Beacon Hill, which is why I’m sitting in the balcony right now listening to compelling testimony from residents who are asking their legislators to please do the will of the people and kill this bill in committee. If we stop H.3690 and stop them from taking Article 97 land in Sandisfield, then we might be able to do the same in Peabody. This is our precedent-setter.

Right now, residents of this beautiful little community, and others, are making a plea before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight, which is co-chaired by our Senator Joan Lovely.

What this comes down to is a battle between residents of the Commonwealth, a company bent on increasing its already obscene profits, and the federal government. Clearly, we’re just a potentially dangerous and disruptive pass through, since it’s become clear that most of the gas shipped in the NED pipeline is destined to be loaded on LNG tankers, and shipped to lucrative overseas markets.

Facts are stubborn things, and the fact is that the NED pipeline, and five other pipeline projects on the drawing board for Mass., will produce five times more natural gas than is needed to meet future demand in the state. Peabody has zero need for additional gas, and the Spectra pipeline currently running through the bikeway area is on most days at half capacity. We assume all of the risk, get no benefit, and KM increases it’s already huge profits.

It’s not about lowering your electric bill, or keeping your home warm. But it is about big energy and big money. H.3690 was filed by a State Rep from Hingham named Garrett Bradley. His district is a 3-hour ride from Sandisfield and Otis State Forest, with its scenic and endangered Spectacle Pond, and old growth forest, yet it was he who brought the bill forward on behalf of the pipeline company. Wonder if he doing KM a solid here has anything to do with the campaign contributions Brian Hickey & Associates – the pipeline company’s main lobbyist on Beacon Hill – made to Rep Bradley’s war chest?

The fact is that Beacon Hill these days is awash in Kinder Morgan blood money. But here’s hoping that our state legislators do the right thing. Are you listening Rep. Ted Speliotis and Senator Lovely?

This needs to be about protecting the quality of life of the residents of the Commonwealth. This should be about doing the will of the people. It’s about the public trust set established when we the people voted to add Article 97 to our Constitution more than 40 years ago.

Be aware that the Kinder Morgan ‘community meeting’ at Spinelli’s will be filled with half truths and total lies

28 Oct

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

By now, you’ve probably heard about the so-called pipeline “community meeting” taking place (Oct. 29, 6-8 p.m.) at Spinelli’s function facility on Route 1 in Lynnfield.

Just so you know, this is not really a “community meeting,” but instead is a carefully orchestrated propaganda show run by Kinder Morgan, a Texas-based company bent on destroying your quality of life with a high-pressure natural gas highway that will be of no benefit to any of the local communities through which it passes.

The meeting will be brought to you by KM Chief Propaganda Officer Allen Fore, and it will be filled with half-truths and outright lies.

But there will likely be free chicken fingers and balloons for the kids, so that’s something.

I’ve been debating all week on whether to inform you of this dog and pony show, since the last thing we want to do is help KM with its tour of lies. But you’re all grownups, and can decide for yourselves whether or not to attend. But please, go knowing that what will really be served for food is a heaping helping of crapola.

All you really need to know about this obscenely profitable Texas company is that it is seeking to risk the safety of your home, your environment and your water supply to build its pipeline and all of its laterals. Furthermore, KM plans to get approval for this project through a five-person appointed board in Washington, DC, called FERC. Loaded with friends of the fossil fuel industry, FERC hardly ever rejects a pipeline permit. Your ELECTED representatives will have no say here.

Know going in, too, that all of this gas is destined to be loaded on LNG tankers and shipped to lucrative, gas-starved foreign markets.  None of the gas will be used by Massachusetts residents.

There is zero need for additional gas in the Commonwealth, the ISO-New England statistics prove this, and right now we’re simply cannon fodder for this company and its goal to make even more profit for its shareholders. They’ll tell you otherwise, but in Peabody we have a gas line owned by a company called Spectra, and that pipe is currently at half capacity.

By the way, did I mention yet that the “Kinder” in Kinder Morgan is for Richard Kinder, who went along for the ride as a high-ranking executive for a famously notorious company called Enron. Kinder Morgan is indeed everything that is wrong with America. Somewhere, Gordon Gekko is smiling, since when it comes to Kinder Morgan the company motto is … “greed is good.”

So, if you go tonight, please ask some tough questions and let them know that you know what they’re up to, all of it bad for Peabody, Lynnfield and Danvers.

Kinder Morgan is a disgraceful corporate citizen, and their destructive and dangerous pipeline will benefit no one other than their stock holders.

Rep. Speliotis accepts campaign contributions from Kinder Morgan pipeline lobbyist

26 Oct

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

For months I’ve been giving Representative Ted Speliotis the benefit of the doubt, hoping all along that he would unconditionally be on the side of the thousands of West Peabody, Middleton and Danvers residents, who passionately oppose the potentially dangerous and totally unnecessary Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal.

Ted Speliotis

Ted Speliotis

There have been days when Rep. Speliotis has seemingly been with us. But then we’ve been puzzled on days when he’s either been on the fence, or curiously, seemed to discourage our opposition efforts.

He has been all over the place, never really 100% committing to opposing this project, which would not only threaten homes and Peabody’s pristine Independence Greenway bikepath, but also the Ipswich River, which provides public drinking water to 350,000 residents on the North Shore.

His lack of total commitment had been puzzling, but maybe we now know why he hasn’t been 100% with residents on opposing the pipeline.

On the rep’s two most-recent campaign finance reports, posted on the Mass. Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF), there are several contributions — worth more than a thousand dollars — from lobbyists who represent the natural gas industry.

But one contributor stands out above all others. In the last two reporting periods, Brian Hickey of Brian Hickey & Associates — who was hired to represent Kinder Morgan’s Massachusetts interests — has given Rep. Speliotis two checks for $200 each. By the way, $200 is the most a lobbyist can give to a State Rep legally in one year, so you have to wonder how much he would have received had there been no limits.  Here’s the link to Speliotis’ full campaign finance report

For a year now, Hickey and KM Chief Propaganda Office Allen Fore have been peddling truths, half-truths and flat out lies to Mass. State Legislators, while filling several campaign war chests with thousands of dollars.

There is, of course, nothing illegal going on here. After all, greasing palms is standard operating procedure for lobbyists on Beacon Hill, and I can’t blame Mr. Hickey for trying to make a living.

But how thoroughly disappointed are we in Rep. Speliotis?

Didn’t we elect him to work for the people of West Peabody, Danvers and Middleton, and oppose this project that will endanger resident quality of life, while providing no benefit to the people of the 13th Essex District. Didn’t we expect that he wouldn’t be taking any of this “blood money?”

The fact is, no matter how much Kinder Morgan tries to avoid the question – and trump up a fake scenario for local demand – we feel that this gas is destined for lucrative foreign markets. The residents of Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire are being used as a pass through for this potentially destructive gas highway.

Rep. Speliotis knows this, and maybe, just maybe he should have sent back this KM blood money? Shame on you, Ted, but I guess at least we now know why you haven’t been 100% supportive of our opposition.

Are Kinder Morgan workers now joining our opposition? :)

28 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Either Kinder Morgan employees are starting to come over to our side, or civil disobedience is commencing. Look at what I found today on a KM truck parked near the Independence Greenway bikeway in Peabody. Just some harmless, Friday afternoon hi-jinks! 🙂

Figured I’d post it so Allen Fore, Chief Propaganda Officer at Kinder Morgan, could print it out and glue it into his favorite scrapbook.

Please join our opposition, our critically necessary fight to protect resident safety, quality of life and to keep this Texas-based company from contaminating Peabody’s water supply.  Please sign up on the Peabody Citizens United website.

By the way, if you have photos of other acts of good, clean civil disobedience when it comes to fighting this unnecessary and dangerous proposed pipeline, please send them my way and I’ll post here for our thousands of visitors to see.

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Kinder Morgan’s deceitful propaganda campaign underway in Peabody

26 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Remember the covert campaign that Kinder Morgan launched to pay Peabody residents if they agreed to pose as fake pro-pipeline activists, and support its dangerous, disruptive and totally unnecessary high-pressure gas highway through our city?

Well, it looks like that campaign is now underway.

A Kinder Morgan-financed sign on Peabody city property

A Kinder Morgan-financed sign

The lawn sign image posted here is just one example. Someone planted it on Sutton Street. Well, I should say that — rather than revealing themselves by putting the sign on their own lawn — they put it on city property. It claims that the pipeline would lower energy bills, which is absurd in Peabody since our Peabody Municipal Light Plant uses very little gas to power its generators, and less than 40% of Peabody homes are heated by natural gas.

The website on the sign is financed by Kinder Morgan as part of Chief Propaganda Officer Allen Fore’s multimillion dollar plan to win hearts and minds with lies, damn lies and statistics when it comes to the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline project. The proposed pipeline would carry fracked gas from Northeast PA to the sea, where it would be loaded on LNG tankers, and shipped to lucrative European markets to increase KM’s already obscene profits.

This is why the propaganda campaign by this company, which has become one of America’s worst corporate citizens, is so important to KM. After all, if KM can’t trump up fake support and fake demand for this gas on a local level, then getting its permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will be much more difficult.

I mean, imagine how it would look if it came out that this pipeline’s main goal is export, and that the people of Massachusetts and southern NH are being put at risk so French or British companies can benefit from cheap fracked gas, and so KM CEO Richard Kinder can increase his $8.8 billion net worth.

What we wonder now is how much they are paying a small number of Peabody residents to be fake pipeline proponents.  Or, should I say, pro pipeline dupes?

Need another example?

Check out this laughable Letter to the Editor by a “citizen,” .He talks about the wonderful tax benefit that KM will offer to the city. Wonder why he didn’t also talk about how much Allen Fore was willing to pay him to write the letter?

The letter’s purpose is not only transparent, but its point is also absurd. Tax benefits from a pipeline that would endanger homes, peoples’ lives and our environment?  While we’re at it, why don’t we also build a toxic waste dump next to Peabody High? That would give us lots of tax revenue.

Risk the safety of our water supply for tax revenue? Sorry, not the community I want to live in.

Besides, the tax revenue (an estimated $400K a year) is puny. Heck, we can get that from allowing someone to erect another couple of billboards, which are roadside eyesores, but at least no one’s going to die.

Beware, Peabody, this greedy Texas-based pipeline company is trying to win your hearts and minds, and it’s using our own misgusided citizens to help them spread their lies, damn lies and statistics

Kinder Morgan is not being honest about its Danvers pipeline plans

21 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

If you have friends or family in Danvers, please let them know that they should call their selectmen immediately, and tell them to not be duped by Texas-based energy giant Kinder Morgan, which is now  threatening their community with its unnecessary and dangerous natural gas highway.

KMstopAfter all, the spin masters at KM – led by Chief Propaganda Officer Allen Fore – are at it again today. With their usual brand of half-truths, misinformation, and outright lies, a KM spokesman is using the Salem News this morning to brag about the riches the company will bestow upon Danvers.

“The estimated annual tax projection [for] Danvers … is $150,000 the first year after the project is in service,” KM spokes-weasel Richard Wheatley said in today’s Salem News, a number that probably came out of thin air. You see, the KM propaganda machine has a reputation for just making up numbers in an effort to lure communities into thinking that putting resident safety and quality of life into jeopardy is a good thing.

But that’s not the only concern for Danvers residents.

It also appears that the KM propaganda machine is working to fool Danvers residents and town officials into thinking that the pipeline will not put any Danvers homes in danger, since it will stop near the old landfill and behind Rosewood Drive.

“We haven’t had any calls from residents because it’s at the landfill,” Town Manager Steve Bartha told selectmen Tuesday night as he brought them up to speed on the project.

But based on this company’s reputation for half-truths, outright lies, and obscene thirst for profits, I guarantee you this isn’t stopping at the landfill.

KM’s ultimate goal is to get this pipeline to sea, from where it can put this gas on LNG tankers and ship it to lucrative foreign markets in Europe and South America.

It’s time now for Danvers to prepare. KM won’t stop at Rosewood Drive. They’re heading across Danvers to the Port. Make no mistake about that.

It’s what they always do: Get a small foothold in a community, and then expand further. Think about it. How does it make any sense that they’ll just stop at Rosewood Drive when they could run their line to Danversport, from where it could be extended out into Salem Harbor, where the infrastructure for an LNG terminal already exists.

There is no need for any of this gas in any of our local communities. Kinder Morgan knows this, and we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that these so-called eastern laterals, off their main Northeast Energy Direct pipeline route, are anything other than a ruse to get this project approved. After all, they’d never get approval if they told the truth, which is that all of this gas is destined for foreign markets, and that we’re simply fodder along the route.

It’s time for the Danvers town officials and residents to get organized. Kinder Morgan, with its horrendous safety record, is using the town just like it uses all other communities in an effort to increase its own profits.

They won’t stop at the landfill, and the measly $150K carrot they’re dangling in front of you is the product of the KM propaganda machine.

Sign up and join the fight with Peabody, and we’ll help you keep this Texas-based company from wrecking quality of life in your community too.

Kinder Morgan releases maps of homes that could be incinerated should its pipeline rupture

16 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

They call it the “incineration zone,” and it’s a phrase used for the area near a high-pressure gas pipeline that would face total devastation should the pipeline rupture.

Well, Peabody, we now know which specific homes are directly in harm’s way should the 24-inch line proposed by Texas-based energy giant Kinder Morgan rupture.

KM, which has a notoriously horrendous safety record, has released drawings showing the homes along Glen Drive that would be most-effected by its disruptive and dangerous project, which will transport gas that won’t be of any benefit to Peabody residents. The maps show homes that are located within 25 feet of the proposed easement, and I’m told the maps may be missing several homes. And even if homeowners aren’t concerned about an accident, think about this: Heavy machinery and equipment will be disturbing your peace from 25 feet away while they do the construction.

See the drawings below. I count more than 20 homes directly affected. These maps don’t show hundreds more Peabody homes in the Glen Drive neighborhood, which could be impacted too.

Here are the homes closest to the proposed pipeline path from Google Earth. Click on the photo for a larger view:

Glen

For residents who live in other towns along the so-called laterals, here’s the link to all of the maps released to show where homes lie in harm’s way. ALSO, for Peabody residents, maps display a lot larger if you click on the link and scroll down to the Peabody maps.

IF YOU LIVE IN ANY OF THESE HOMES on Glen Drive, please continue to deny access to your property to Kinder Morgan surveyors. Send a copy of this form to the company and one copy to the Peabody Police Department. If KM tries to come on your property after that, the advice is that you have those surveyors arrested, and that you press charges for trespassing.

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KM propaganda can’t hide that the gas in their NED pipeline would be destined for foreign markets

13 Aug

(Note: Please join us in our fight against the Kinder Morgan Pipeline by signing up here)

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

A dude named Allen Fore—who essentially serves as Chief Propaganda Officer for the Texas-based company seeking to profit at the expense of the health, safety and quality of life of Massachusetts and NH residents—continued his tour of lies last night at a FERC scoping meeting in Lunenburg.

There's no need for more gas in Peabody, or anywhere else in Massachusetts

There’s no need for more gas in Peabody, or anywhere else in Massachusetts

As residents inside spoke in opposition of Kinder Morgan’s proposed gas highway to hell (e.g., the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline), Fore talked to reporters about how the company is benevolently building this pipeline to save us from high electricity rates, the result of a so-called natural gas shortage.

If you listen to Fore at these meetings, you’d think we were living in a Mad Max movie, and that any day now people are going to start killing each other over a cup of methane.

Fore told the Sentinel and Enterprise newspaper last night that the only reason KM is expanding its pipeline here is because they want to alleviate high energy prices for consumers.

“Remember: gas is used for more than home heating,” Fore said, noting that it also can be used to produce electricity. “It’s an electricity issue. It’s a gas issue.”

Oh, really?

Then why did ISO-New England, the entity that oversees the region’s electrical grid, just come out with a report that showed our demand for electricity continues to decline. That’s right, the wholesale price for electricity in June was 1.96 cents per kilowatt hour, down by nearly 50 percent over June 2014. And the decline, ISO said, continued in July, dropping by more than 27 percent over the previous year.

People are conserving and prices are dropping, dramatically, which leads us to this question:

Is Allen Fore simply uninformed, or … is he liar?

Considering that the company he works for stands to make an obscene profit off the NED project, I’m going to place my bet on the latter.

It’s also becoming clear to us now that, since ISO’s numbers are proving that we obviously already have more than enough gas capacity, Kinder Morgan has motives here other than heading off what is a fraudulent New England gas crisis.

Make no mistake, the gas that will flow through this destructive line, threatening homes, pristine conservation lands and public drinking water supplies, is destined for foreign markets. Kinder Morgan is trying to get to the sea, from where it will load this this fracked Marcellus Shale gas onto LNG tankers for sale in gas-starved Europe and South America.

In fact, we believe that the so-called laterals, which KM says are being installed off the main line to supply the needs of eastern Mass. communities – including Peabody – are a clever ruse to get FERC to go along and approve its permits.

Think about it. Why were the laterals added so late in the process? Could it be that KM wanted to alleviate suspicion that this gas was headed overseas, and we were just a pass through?

Could it be that KM knew that it would have been a public relations nightmare to have people think that none of this gas would benefit the people whose lives they are disrupting with this project?

Well, consider this, it has been reported that the current Spectra (Maritimes & Northeast) pipeline that goes through Peabody’s Independence Greenway bikepath, and on into Salem, is currently running at about half of its capacity. That’s right, the demand is so low, that they can’t give away the gas running through an existing pipeline in that area.

No matter what garbage spews from the mouth of Kinder Morgan’s Chief Propaganda Officer, make no mistake, the Peabody lateral is a ruse and totally unnecessary when it comes to meeting energy demands in our community.

Time for this company to fess up to this, and cancel all of these unnecessary laterals. Time for Allen Fore to spread his propaganda somewhere else. We’re just not buying it.