FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, November 18, 2022
Grassroots Coalition Vows to Oppose GTN XPress Fracked Gas Project After FERC Issues
A Final Environmental Impact Statement
FERC Downplays Concerns of States, Tribes, and Community Groups in Final Environmental Review
[Washington, DC] — Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed GTN XPress fracked gas pipeline expansion. The project, which would significantly increase the flow of fracked gas through the Northwest, faces fierce opposition from a grassroots coalition of communities along the pipeline, climate advocates, tribal members, health professionals, and communities across Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho. Members of a regional coalition comprising dozens of community groups immediately condemned FERC’s short-sighted analysis.
FERC’s analysis failed to resolve deep-seated concerns from states, tribes, and community groups about the broader impacts of the project, including its conflict with state climate goals and failure to address upstream methane emissions from the harmful practice of fracking.
“In this time of climate crisis it is crucial that we prioritize people over profits,” said Rev. AC Churchill, Executive Director of Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light. “It is unjust for communities all along the pipeline to bear the economic and health burden of increased fracked gas from this project, especially given the lack of consultation with Native Nations and minimal public engagement in the EIS process.”
The project has been heavily criticized by the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission, who have decried FERC’s lack of consultation as well as the climate and health impacts of the pipeline. In August, they wrote a full comment letter to FERC outlining deficiencies in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
Most people near the pipeline and compressor stations don’t even know about the expansion,” says Diane Hodiak, executive Director of 350 Deschutes. “There has been a near-total lack of opportunity for public engagement. It is being rapidly pushed with little room for input from the people who will be affected. With the rise in energy prices, ratepayers certainly don’t want to be on the hook for more price increases for the cost of infrastructure.”
“From wildfires to droughts, Columbia River communities increasingly experience climate change impacts. That’s why West Coast states are united in opposition to GTN’s expansion plans,” said Lauren Goldberg, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “FERC’s approach will worsen the climate crisis, downplaying the impacts of a proposal that will pollute our communities, impact health and safety, and create millions of tons of climate-changing pollution each year.”
“Oregon’s largest County just issued a report recommending against using fracked gas in homes because of its harms to public health,” said David De La Torre, Healthy Climate Program Director of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Pushing more health-harming fracked gas into our region may be in the interests of fossil fuel corporations, but it is contrary to the public interest and protecting people’s health.”
The proposed expansion of the Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) pipeline, a subsidiary of TC Energy, would transport approximately 150 million cubic feet per day of additional methane gas from Canada for sale in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California. FERC previously found the project would emit approximately 3.24 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, for at least the next 30 years. This is equivalent to adding 754,000 cars on the road each year until 2052. Experts and over 1,000 commenters from across the region warned that FERC’s estimates are too low, and that the real climate impact would be far greater.
This proposed pipeline expansion comes at a time when government agencies from the EPA to Multnomah County Health Department are calling for an urgent transition away from gas. Attorney Generals from Washington, Oregon, and California oppose the expansion, filing a Motion to Intervene and Protest in August 2022.
Following successful community opposition to proposed new pipelines in recent years, pipeline expansions have become part of a national strategy to increase fracked gas. FERC has approved 15 similar XPress projects over the past 5 years alone, resulting in a dramatic expansion of fracked gas in the U.S.
FERC is expected to make its final decision on the GTN XPress proposal on February 16th, 2023.