Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions


Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions FlyerRegional organizations and grassroots activists of 350 Spokane, Idaho Chapter Sierra Club, Palouse Extinction Rebellion, Rogue Climate, Veterans for Peace Spokane Chapter 35, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) request your participation and support of public protests of three corporations pushing the dangerous Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) Xpress pipeline expansion project.  We are collectively co-hosting these actions in solidarity with sovereign Wet’suwet’en land defenders and water protectors opposing Coastal GasLink pipeline construction through their unceded, indigenous territories in British Columbia, Canada.  Allied groups are planning peaceful, safe, and effective citizen pickets on nearby public walkways outside fossil fuel company offices during early November, to attract a broad range of involvement and responses from the public, issue coalition groups, and media.  Several partner organizations are graciously offering travel funds and providing Stop GTN Xpress/Coastal GasLink logo designs, T-shirts, signs, banners, and other equipment.  Volunteer activists are eager to engage you in resistance to both Northwest gas pipelines owned by TC Energy, notorious for its Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  Please share this event announcement and flyer and other campaign outreach materials via text, social media, email, and website, invite and bring your friends, family, and protest signs, create props and coordinate carpools and various logistics, and join us at one or all of these lively demonstrations!

Tuesday, November 1, 4 pm PDT at TC Energy, 201 West North River Drive, Suite 505, Spokane, Washington: Meet on the north path along the Spokane River, across from Riverfront Park and between Washington and Division streets

Wednesday, November 2, 4 pm PDT at Cascade Natural Gas, 8113 West Grandridge Boulevard, Kennewick, Washington: Gather on the south sidewalk along Grandridge Boulevard

Friday, November 4, 4 pm MDT at Intermountain Gas, 555 South Cole Road, Boise, Idaho: Converge on the west Cole Road walkway near the Farmers Lateral Canal

Resist plans by TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) and regional “natural” gas utilities to increase methane gas volumes by 150 million (and eventually, incrementally 250 million) cubic feet per day and upgrade the capacity of three compressor stations of the 1,354-mile GTN pipeline that crosses from British Columbia, through north Idaho, eastern Washington, and central Oregon, to California [1, 2].  The 61-year-old, potentially explosive, climate-wrecking gas pipeline is dangerously located under the Spokane, Washington, metropolitan area and below the Schweitzer ski resort parking lot and city of Sandpoint, Idaho.  The Athol, Idaho, pump station proposed for expansion stands only two miles from the popular Silverwood Theme Park, full of hundreds of visitors on precarious rides during spring, summer, and fall days.

GTN has applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to permit the GTN Xpress expansion project.  But controversy has continued to grow during and since the too-brief comment period on FERC’s draft environmental impact statement (EIS) that closed on August 22, despite a timely letter from twenty mostly Oregon groups and Wild Idaho Rising Tide, requesting that FERC provide an additional 30 days for the public to review and evaluate the document [3].  As thousands of people across the Northwest rise to oppose GTN Xpress, FERC has received over 1,300 oppositional petition signatures and extensive, informative remarks from concerned citizens, environmental and climate groups, and tribal, state, and federal government officials, denouncing draft EIS deficiencies and the fracked gas pipeline expansion’s significant contributions to worsening climate change, while the Northwest transitions off fossil fuels toward more sustainable, renewable energy sources [2, 4, 5].

Attempting to foist stranded Canadian gas assets on the Northwest, likely aware of its gradually failing product prospects, TC Energy expects to quickly, stealthily secure GTN Xpress approval by FERC and other government regulatory agencies.  It has strategically enlisted contracted, third-party, environmental reviewers with undisclosed conflicts of interests as consulting firms simultaneously working with TC Energy, and has expanded its other pipeline volumes, instead of building new infrastructure that attracts justified direct actions from frontline fossil fuels fighters [6, 7].  With anticipated release of a final EIS on November 18, postponed from October 14, and a pending conclusive FERC decision on GTN Xpress in February 2023, impacted residents and concerned communities must act swiftly to protect the inland Northwest from this proposal [8].

For at least another 30 years, the GTN Xpress climate boondoggle would:

* Extend unnecessary, immoral, fossil fuels extraction, fracking, and transportation and industry, government, and police surveillance, harassment, and violence toward First Nations people and their lands and waters around the pipeline origin in British Columbia.  During the last few decades, Wet’suwet’en and other indigenous communities protesting TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink and Enbridge’s (now Canada’s) Trans Mountain pipelines construction and expansion have endured much of this mistreatment [9, 10].

* Jeopardize the health and safety of Northwest residents close to the GTN pipeline route and compressor stations, with increased proximity and exposure to higher amounts of volatile emissions, air and water pollution, and hazardous leaks and explosions.

* Increase Northwest consumption of fracked gas, even while current GTN pipeline volumes are double the amount of market demand that is rapidly decreasing.  Residential gas combustion can release the high levels of nitrogen dioxide in homes, which disproportionately impacts low-income communities and heightens risks of respiratory diseases and childhood asthma.

* Exacerbate the methane, carbon, and other greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate chaos, by adding a FERC-estimated 3.25 million-plus metric tons of pollution per year to the atmosphere, potentially the second largest source of Washington greenhouse gases and equivalent or more than the annual pollution of eight new gas-fired power plants, or all Washington natural gas-burning commercial buildings, or 754,000 additional passenger vehicles each year until 2052.

* Accelerate the worst effects of global pollution and climate change most attributable to fossil fuels, such as the extreme droughts, wildfires, storms, floods, and degraded air quality devastating the Northwest and world.

* Impose legal inconsistencies with Oregon and Washington state laws that require decreasing climate changing emissions by 80 to 95 percent by 2050, and make these ambitious but crucial targets more difficult to achieve.

* Benefit fossil fuel corporations while burdening utility ratepayers with higher energy prices that expensively invest in prolonged fossil fuel infrastructure, while natural gas supplies continue to exceed consumer and market demands and renewable energy costs decline.

GTN Xpress Resistance

On August 22, the attorneys general of Washington, Oregon, and California filed joint comments calling on FERC to deny a GTN Xpress permit and collaboratively motioning to intervene in the FERC case [11-14].  They raised concerns that the pipeline expansion would force more fossil fuels on West Coast state residents, contradicting state policy commitments to reduce reliance on dirty energy, lessen climate pollution, and meet lower emission targets and looming deadlines during the next few decades.  Although FERC is encountering difficulty ignoring these prominent protesting parties and their intervenor status request, the commission still has not granted, and GTN has motioned against, the case involvement of these attorneys general.

Opposing any new or expanded fossil fuels extraction, transportation, and infrastructure projects, an emerging Northwest coalition sent a letter to California, Oregon, and Washington governors, encouraging them to further consider the far-reaching climate impacts of their public actions and decisions, especially for under-represented, rural communities [15-17].  Over three dozen organizations, including Idaho groups, requested that these state administrations more strongly and publicly reject and stop TC Energy’s GTN Xpress gas pipeline and compressor station expansion and their pollution, which undermine shared regional goals for healthier air and water.  Alongside state attorneys general comments to FERC, these environmental advocates have argued that the proposed expansion has not adequately demonstrated an economic need, would violate state statutory climate policies, and may result in existing utility customers subsidizing the GTN Xpress project.

Similarly, although without as much state government support, Idaho environmental groups have been provoking transitions toward “clean” energy, especially across the southern Idaho utility service area that would receive the GTN Xpress gas that only passes through the sparsely populated north Idaho panhandle.  Attempting to displace Williams Northwest pipeline gas in the larger energy market across the Snake River Plain, GTN Xpress would impose the highest proportionate increase in annual greenhouse gas emissions of the three impacted Northwest states in Idaho: up to 16 percent, compared to 7.7 percent in Oregon and 3.8 percent in Washington.

As an essential part of its pipeline expansion application to FERC, GTN must “disclose pre-arranged, binding precedent agreements with shippers, to demonstrate the economic need for the project,” and thus obtain a required certificate of public convenience and necessity [14].  Apparently without citizen and utility ratepayer knowledge, two gas companies have reserved a majority of the initially planned capacity of GTN Xpress: about 100 million cubic feet per day, or 67 percent, of 150 million cubic feet per day.  Cascade Natural Gas, headquartered in Kennewick, Washington, has arranged for an extra 20 million cubic feet per day of gas delivery to Oregon and Washington customers.  The company that provides lateral pipes for the Williams Northwest pipeline in southern Idaho, Intermountain Gas based in Boise, has agreed to accept for unwitting Idahoans a colossal 79 million cubic feet per day, more than half of GTN Xpress gas capacity.  But among ongoing Northwest fossil fuels wars, the best that Idahoans can expect of top state officials is retaliation in response to resistance, as evidenced by the recent comments of Idaho congressmen and the governor to FERC, denouncing the legal basis of West Coast state attorneys general arguments [18].  Americans will never pull our heads out of dirty fossil fuel holes and trust our needs to the abundant, life-giving power of sun, wind, and water, while conservative “leaders” cling to outmoded, destructive energy sources.

Like other fossil fuels, transportation, and railroad companies who have misused the rural inland Northwest as an industrial corridor for increasing corporate profits during many decades, GTN Xpress intends to transport fracked gas from Canada to southern Idaho and California, while north Idaho, eastern Washington, and central Oregon families, properties, businesses, and public lands bear the risks of industry but enjoy few of its benefits [1].  Increasing gas in the GTN pipeline during its operation and maintenance compounds the current possibilities of gas and chemical leaks, explosions, and accidents along the pipeline route through Sandpoint and Spokane and other surrounding cities.  GTN Xpress upgrades of the Athol, Idaho, compressor station harm the health and safety of neighboring families and communities, by adding air pollution that exposes nearby residents to cancer-causing emissions and increases death rates, as indicated by university studies.

Rather than supporting community needs, the GTN Xpress project ignores and dismisses the rights of directly impacted, rural and tribal people and even the highest levels of state governments to participate in decisions affecting their lives and livelihoods.  TC Energy and FERC have neither contacted these GTN Xpress stakeholders nor provided adequate time and opportunities for them to give project feedback.  Citizens experienced limited access to federal public input processes, due to lack of local hearings, the ongoing pandemic, difficult rural internet connections, summer vacations, and staff reorganizations of lead opposition groups [1].

In response to public remarks filed during the draft EIS comment period, FERC has since twice requested additional environmental information from GTN, to assist FERC staff with their analysis of the pipeline expansion permit application.  In its latest, October 20 letter, FERC asked GTN to file a response providing “a discussion on the potential for wildfires within the project work areas, including any fire protection plans and consultation with local fire departments and emergency response agencies” [19].  The federal agency also sought a GTN explanation of noise impacts on nearby sensitive areas and equipment installation to mediate sound during pipeline maintenance and gas releases.  Northwest residents are justifiably concerned about the massive wildfires that eruption of the GTN Xpress pipeline would inflict on surrounding forests and fields.  Proposed pipeline volume increases and compressor station expansions, currently deliberated by FERC, would further threaten the safety, health, natural resources, and even waterways of the region, as indicated by an underwater natural gas pipeline explosion that recently ignited a day-long, towering blaze and left oil and debris sheens in a Louisiana lake [20].

Besides these two FERC inquiries expressing agency concern and addressing comments from impacted pipeline corridor residents, FERC requested a description of GTN’s “ongoing outreach to environmental justice communities affected by the project [and] …any measures (such as holding additional community meetings, providing targeted information mailings, identification of a community liaison/contact for questions and complaints, etc.) GTN plans to carry out prior to and during the project construction period, to receive input from affected communities and landowners” [19].  To date, GTN Xpress opponents have noticed public record evidence of GTN contacting only a few north Idaho state legislators and county commissioners, not any potentially harmed tribal members and governments and rural citizens unaware of this risky scheme.

Other Stop GTN Xpress Activities

Please join allied inland Northwest groups at upcoming protests in Spokane, Kennewick, and Boise in early November!  Besides confronting the corporate sources of climate change at their offices, other GTN Xpress resistance opportunities await you:

1) Assist with further outreach about this campaign and these actions to your friends, family, fellow group members, and colleagues, and/or with event logistics like transportation, lodging, and protest photos, videos, and communications, such as participant voices, press releases, and media advisories and advertisements.

2) Invite other interested activists and groups to the widening coalition, and share your resistance ideas by joining weekly, grassroots, campaign planning talks among concerned coalition partners via Zoom meetings.

3) Organize and prepare your community to testify and demonstrate at Stop GTN Xpress “people’s hearings,” solidarity rallies, and other actions at federal buildings and/or online in late 2022 or early 2023.

4) Support Washington, Oregon, and California attorneys general case intervention and comments against GTN Xpress, call or email your elected local and state officials, and sign and garner signatures for a petition to Oregon congressional senators [21].

5) Learn more about the GTN Xpress pipeline proposal, request news articles, opinion pieces, and updates about this fossil fuels invasion, and compose and send letters to local newspaper editors, based on template suggestions, to support public knowledge, comments, and protests [22, 23].

6) Provide and encourage public comments to FERC, requesting that the federal agency re-evaluate the climate impacts of this pipeline expansion in a region transitioning away from fossil fuels, and reject this climate and environment destructive infrastructure, by denying TC Energy’s application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for GTN Xpress, and by choosing the draft EIS no action alternative for this proposal that is clearly contrary to the best public interests that FERC must consider and uphold [24].

In all of your Stop GTN Xpress efforts, emphasize the climate, public health, and environmental impacts of TC Energy forcing its stranded fracked gas assets on the Northwest, the pipeline risks without the energy benefits that GTN Xpress imposes on rural communities, lands, and waters, and the growing Northwest movement supporting electrification of energy for vehicles and buildings and opposing this pipeline expansion.  For further information about GTN Xpress expansion impacts and public responses, please reply and get involved with this pipeline resistance: Thanks!

[1] Stop North Idaho’s Keystone XL Pipeline! August 18, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[2] Docket CP22-2-000, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

[3] Comment by August 22! August 21, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[4] Fracked Gas Pipeline Expansion: 1,000 Voices Urge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to Deny GTN Xpress Pipeline Capacity Expansion, August 22, 2022 Columbia Riverkeeper

[5] Massive Northwest Comment Rejection of Gas Pipeline Expansion! August 23, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[6] Documents Show TC Energy’s Contractors Did Not Report Conflicts of Interest to FERC, October 6, 2022 Energy and Policy Institute

[7] Rogue Climate Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the GTN Xpress Project under CP22-2, pages 18-19, August 22, 2022 Rogue Climate

[8] Notice of Revised Schedule for Environmental Review of the GTN Xpress Project re Gas Transmission Northwest LLC under CP22-2, October 7, 2022 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

[9] Gidimt’en Checkpoint

[10] Unisʼtotʼen Camp

[11] AG Ferguson Seeks to Halt Expansion of Methane Gas Pipeline by Company behind Keystone XL Pipeline, August 22, 2022 Washington State Office of the Attorney General

[12] West Coast Attorneys General Urge Federal Regulators to Deny Natural Gas Pipeline Expansion, August 22, 2022 KTVZ

[13] Oregon Joins Western States in Opposing More Natural Gas from Canadian Pipeline, August 31, 2022 Idaho Capital Sun

[14] High-Profile Intervenors Seek to Shake Up FERC’s Gas Pipeline Approval Criteria, September 16, 2022 FactSet

[15] Stop GTN Xpress Coalition Letter to West Coast Governors, October 21, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[16] Environmental Leaders Urge West Coast Governors to Oppose GTN Pipeline Expansion, October 24, 2022 Columbia Riverkeeper

[17] Green Groups Call On Governors to Oppose GTN Pipeline Expansion ‘Loud and Clear’, October 24, 2022 Common Dreams

[18] Comments of U.S. Senator James E. Risch et al re Gas Transmission Northwest Xpress Project under CP22-2, October 24, 2022 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

[19] Letter Requesting Gas Transmission Northwest, LLC to File a Response to Environmental Information Request Within 5 Days to Assist in FERC’s Analysis of the Application under CP22-2, October 20, 2022 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

[20] #StopGTNXpress! September 10, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[21] Tell Your Senators: Oregonians Oppose GTN Xpress, Columbia Riverkeeper

[22] GTN Xpress Pipeline Letters to the Editor Guide, August 8, 2022 Columbia Riverkeeper

[23] Speak Out! Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[24] How to File a Comment, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

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