GTN Xpress & Idaho & Northwest Stakeholders
Canadian energy company TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), owner of the notorious Keystone and Keystone XL tar sands pipelines and the Coastal GasLink line under contested construction through unceded, indigenous, Wet’suwet’en territories in British Columbia (B.C.), has applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to increase the “natural” gas pipeline volumes and pressures of three compressor stations along its Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) pipeline, with the GTN Xpress expansion project from B.C. through north Idaho, eastern Washington, and central Oregon. The 61-year-old, potentially explosive GTN pipeline passes under Wild Idaho Rising Tide’s (WIRT) fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails frontline community and waters around Sandpoint and Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho, through several rural sacrifice zones, and below the Spokane, Washington, metropolitan area. One of the GTN compressor stations planned for upgrades stands near dozens of unaware residences and a popular amusement park full of hundreds of visitors in Athol, Idaho .
TC Energy and partner fossil fuel corporations propose to increase the capacity for dangerous methane gas in the existing, 1,354-mile GTN pipeline by 150 million cubic feet per day, pushing more gas into the Northwest and locking communities into expensive fossil fuel energy for decades. If approved by FERC, the GTN Xpress expansion would cause continued fracking in tribal lands in Canada and threaten and harm the health and safety of rural, low-income communities living and working along the pipeline route. Prone to accidents like leaks, fires, and explosions, the aging infrastructure of pipelines and compressor stations risks exposing nearby residents to cancer-causing pollutants.
Over the last few decades, Northwest citizens have defeated fossil fuels pipelines, processing plants, and export terminals, and organized to pass local and state climate laws, while experiencing record droughts, wildfires, storms, floods, and other climate change impacts. But sneakier pipeline expansions require different government processes and regulations than new pipeline construction, even though GTN Xpress would exacerbate the greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the climate crisis contributing to these conditions. Supplying enough gas to serve 1.2 million households each day, GTN Xpress would contradict Oregon and Washington state policy commitments to reduce climate pollution and end dependence on climate-wrecking fossil fuels.
During summer 2022, over 1,300 people petitioned FERC to deny TC Energy’s plans; Columbia River tribes voiced their resistance; a broad, emerging coalition of Northwest community groups commented against the project; and the attorneys general of California, Oregon, and Washington told FERC that they oppose GTN Xpress, because it clearly conflicts with state and federal climate goals. With FERC expected to release the scheme’s final environmental impact statement (EIS) on November 18, 2022, and to issue an ultimate decision in February 2023, Northwesterners need to hold FERC accountable, ask that the agency address valid climate, public health, and environmental concerns raised across the region, and demand that FERC reject the GTN Xpress project.
Since April 2022, the WIRT climate activist collective has been informing, networking, and supporting impacted, indigenous, and grassroots groups and individuals and state, county, and city, elected and agency officials about GTN Xpress, along the north Idaho and eastern Washington GTN pipeline corridor and in southern Idaho, where Intermountain Gas customers would receive over half of the additional GTN Xpress methane gas from a Stanfield, Oregon, compressor station diversion. We have provided extensive comments to FERC on behalf of WIRT’s 3,200-plus contacts, and communicated and urged opposition to the GTN Xpress gas pipeline expansion via social media, email, website, and other online resources, and through WIRT’s weekly, eleven-years-broadcast, community radio program . WIRT plans to continue to raise resistance to this Canadian stranded gas asset invasion of the Northwest, by encouraging citizen involvement in public processes and alternative methods of GTN Xpress rejection.
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