November 17-18 GTN Xpress Action, WIRT Talk, & FEIS Release

Stop GTN Xpress Phone ZapGTN 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 [1].

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 [2].  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.

Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions Report

WIRT and inland Northwest, volunteer, community groups organized the Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions on November 1 to 4, 2022, as protests confronting the three primary fossil fuel company perpetrators of this unnecessary gas pipeline expansion at their offices: TC Energy in Spokane, Cascade Natural Gas in Kennewick, Washington, and Intermountain Gas in Boise, Idaho [3-8].  Among unseasonably cold, windy, rainy, and even snowy weather, the colorful autumn hues of trees, and curious drivers, the allied activists of 350 Spokane, Extinction Rebellion Palouse, Idaho Chapter Sierra Club, Rogue Climate, Spokane Veterans for Peace, and WIRT traveled hundreds of miles via public and private transportation and successfully staged one-hour demonstrations along public sidewalks and streets during evening, rush-hour traffic.

At each regional action, one to 15 participants brought packs of demonstration materials and props, donned bright gold, Stop GTN Xpress T-shirts over their coats, and converged at designated locations outside pipeline and gas company office buildings and parking complexes, within eyesight of business windows.  They unfurled and vigorously stood with a banner saying “No Northwest Fossil Fuel Pipeline Expansions: Stop GTN Xpress,” held individual organization flags, and displayed Wet’suwet’en posters proclaiming solidarity and no pipelines for land and water defenders in B.C.  With several encounters with company personnel, security guards, police vehicles, and media reporters, the GTN Xpress resisters gathered for organizers photographing the activities near business signs and other landmarks, and caused lock-down of the downtown Spokane building hosting TC Energy.  Congratulations and gratitude for everyone involved in the Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions and other uprisings against new and expanded fossil fuels projects and their industry and government perpetrators!

Thursday 10 am GTN Xpress FERC Call-In Event

Considering FERC’s predictably unresponsive “public processes” and the rubberstamping federal agency’s probable decision to permit the controversial GTN Xpress, WIRT and associated opponents of expanded gas pipelines, railroaded coal and oil, and other climate-wrecking projects eagerly anticipate hosting, encouraging coordination, and participating in community convergences, whether in-person and/or via teleconference, which provide opportunities for GTN Xpress-impacted residents, businesses, and government officials to further exchange information and respond to TC Energy’s proposed methane gas pipeline expansion.

Please register for a Zoomed action event and join Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE), Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and Gulf Coast fossil fuels frontline groups at 10 am PST/1 pm EST on Thursday, November 17 [9].  The East Coast activist crew of BXE focuses on disruptive, non-violent, direct actions that counter FERC’s dismissal of citizen comments, during the days around FERC’s monthly meeting.  The call will open with a talk about FERC updates and its monthly, Washington D.C. meeting without GTN Xpress on the agenda.  A WIRT organizer will lead further discussion about TC Energy’s planned GTN Xpress project for 7 to 10 minutes.  Participants will then involve continent-wide contacts in phoning, texting, Tweeting, and emailing FERC commissioners, demanding that they reject GTN Xpress.  Rogue Climate in Oregon has developed a GTN Xpress information and action toolkit that includes individual FERC email addresses and office phone numbers, which can inform quick messages to FERC and Congressional delegates [10].

Gulf Coast organizers will lastly share their insights on fossil fuels fights in Texas.  During this crucial time before the Friday, November 18, final EIS release, help GTN Xpress opponents pressure FERC to delay and deny the project proposal, until it reviews community concerns about this fossil fuels fiasco.  If you miss this Zoom webcast, you can watch it later on the BXE facebook page, and continue to directly contact FERC until its early 2023 decision on the GTN Xpress disaster [11].

Thursday 7 pm GTN Xpress Talk at Monthly Forum

At 7 pm on Thursday, November 17, the Dorothy Day Labor Forum (DDLF) will honor a founder and organizer of Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), Helen Yost, as the first speaker at its monthly, Zoomed meeting [12].  The approximately 200 non-partisan, non-religiously affiliated DDLF members include retired union workers, college teachers, and citizens connected to socialist and activist groups and large progressive movements in the city of Spokane.  Some appreciated DDLF representatives participated in a WIRT and allied demonstration outside the TC Energy office in Spokane on November 1, protesting TC Energy’s GTN Xpress pipeline expansion, the topic of this 15-minute, Thursday evening presentation and an additional, half-hour, question and answer period.  Helen will gratefully discuss the environmental consequences and immediate dangers, including explosions, of the GTN Xpress pipeline from Canada across the Northwest.

Activated by memories of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker wreck and spill in Alaska home waters and by the onslaught of ExxonMobil tar sands megaloads in Idaho, Helen co-founded the volunteer climate activist collective WIRT in 2011.  Since 1978, among climate, indigenous, and environmental activists from Alaska to Montana, she has informed and mobilized fellow Northwesterners, to repel threats to public lands and waters, global climate, and human rights.  Her education encompasses ecology, botany, wilderness, wildlife, and environmental education, only 12 credits from a PhD in natural resources.  Over the last 15 years in north Idaho, Helen has served as a director, board member and president, and organizer for regional groups, and as a producer and host of the weekly Climate Justice Forum program on KRFP Radio Free Moscow.  As a frontline opponent of fossil fuels, she has coordinated rallies against megaloads, coal and oil trains and terminals, Idaho oil and gas development and highway and railroad expansions, public lands deforestation, and other industrial onslaughts [13].

GTN Xpress People’s Hearings & Other Public Actions

WIRT and allies intend to organize further local and Zoomed talks about GTN Xpress that prompt and effectively engage citizens in alternative, recorded forums for discussion and testimony, such as upcoming “people’s hearings.”  We are currently connecting with inland and western Washington, social and climate justice groups, to hold these meetings and conversations in early 2023.  We are also strategizing other possible actions at several locations along the GTN pipeline route, during the remainder of 2022 and first half of 2023, with timing responsive to weather conditions, federal agency and court decisions, and construction timelines.  Emphasizing GTN Xpress as a source of global climate chaos and associated threats and harms to community, ecological, and watershed health, we envision winter weekend demonstrations at a major Schweitzer ski resort parking lot directly over the GTN pipeline in Sandpoint, near Silverwood Theme Park only two miles from the Athol compressor station expansion, and again at the riverside, downtown Spokane office of TC Energy.

To fulfill these goals, WIRT and partner organizations may also hold frontline and solidarity, direct action training workshops and monitor, document, and publicly report the regulatory and operational problems of this destructive, regional, fossil fuels project.  Through these presently and potentially challenging actions, we hope to further uphold the human and tribal rights typically dismissed by corporate interests, fervently campaign to permanently halt GTN Xpress, and subsequently reinvigorate Idaho and Northwest movements against fossil fuels extraction, transportation, and infrastructure projects.  Thanks for your involvement!

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

[2] Category Archives: Climate Justice Forum, Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[3] Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions, October 24, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[4] Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions, October 25, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[5] November 1, Spokane, Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions! November 1, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[6] November 2, Kennewick, Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions! November 10, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[7] November 4, Boise, Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions! November 12, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[8] Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions 11-1 to 11-4-22, November 1, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[9] Meeting Registration: BXE Monthly FERC Meeting Zoominar and Phone Zap! Beyond Extreme Energy

[10] FERC GTN Action Alert Toolkit, Rogue Climate & Beyond Extreme Energy

[11] Beyond Extreme Energy #BXE, Beyond Extreme Energy facebook page

[12] Registration, November 17, 2022 Dorothy Day Labor Forum

[13] 9th, 10th, & 11th Annual WIRT Celebrations, June 8, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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