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

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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 Continue reading

Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions

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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]. Continue reading

Stop North Idaho’s Keystone XL Pipeline!

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0 GTN Idaho Map 1

GTN Xpress Gas Pipeline Expansion

Residents of the Northwest and Turtle Island continent continue to experience the extreme, worsening heat, droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods caused by fossil-fueled climate change.  But Canadian energy company TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), owner of the notoriously leaky Keystone tar sands pipeline, partially completed but unpermitted Keystone XL pipeline, and new Coastal GasLink line invading unceded indigenous lands in British Columbia (B.C.), expects the public not to notice its plans to stealthily expand its 1,353-mile-long Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) pipeline across north Idaho, eastern Washington, and central Oregon [1-5].

The GTN Xpress project would dangerously increase “natural” gas volumes by 150 million to 250 million cubic feet per day, in its 61-year-old pipeline system.  GTN transports gas extracted via hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” from the prolific West Canadian Sedimentary Basin and Rocky Mountain fields of northeast British Columbia and Alberta.  It connects with the Foothills and Nova Gas Transmission pipelines in Canada near Kingsgate, B.C., crosses the U.S. border at Eastport, Idaho, and terminates in Malin, Oregon, where it flows into the Tuscarora pipeline in northern California.  In north Idaho, the climate-wrecking, potentially explosive GTN pipeline traverses the Moyie Valley, Bonners Ferry, and the Highway 95 corridor, close and parallel to railroad lines.  GTN passes under a Schweitzer Mountain ski resort parking lot and West Pine Street in Sandpoint, and below the Pend Oreille River near Dover, downstream from Idaho’s largest, deepest lake.  From Malin in southern Oregon, the controversial Pacific Connector pipeline would have carried feedstock gas out to the coastal Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Coos Bay.  But a decade-plus of broad public opposition and regulatory hurdles overcame both boondoggles.

Through a compression-only expansion of the GTN system, GTN Xpress would software-upgrade the capacity and pressure of the gas-fired turbine compressor at the Athol, Idaho, pump station 5, from 14,300 to 23,470 horsepower.  Although the Athol station is located at 2244 East Seasons Road in Kootenai County, a dispatch center in Portland, Oregon, remotely controls it and 11 other compressor stations, numbered 3 through 14, which move gas along the U.S. part of the pipeline.  The facility stands just two miles west-northwest of the popular Silverwood Theme Park, full of hundreds of visitors on precarious rides during spring, summer, and fall days.  Installing new equipment and improving an access road at two Washington and Oregon compressor stations and along the pipeline, the GTN Xpress project would push an additional 250,000 dekatherms of gas per day out to smaller, linked pipelines and markets in Washington, Oregon, and California.  As one dekatherm provides enough gas for five average-sized (over-large) homes, new GTN Xpress infrastructure and gas volumes would force 1.2 million households to use fossil fuels for at least another 30 years.

Excess Gas & Northwest Energy Transitions

In its October 2021 application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), seeking a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the GTN Xpress project, TC Energy claims that “increased market demand driven by residential, commercial, and industrial customers in the Pacific Northwest” justifies aged GTN pipeline expansion, and that “the benefits of GTN’s proposed project far outweigh its potential adverse impacts” [6].  These plans prompted FERC to prepare a draft, federal, environmental impact statement (EIS) currently undergoing public scrutiny and input [7-9].  Although TC Energy has urged FERC to approve the project with a final EIS by October 14, 2022, and to authorize it by the 90-day federal deadline of January 12, 2023, company and agency staff must first prove to the commission that Americans, not just Idahoans and Northwesterners, need this pipeline expansion, and that GTN Xpress would benefit public interests.  As FERC called for draft EIS scoping comments on the project in February 2022, it also updated its policies guiding decisions on natural gas projects, allowing the agency to more thoroughly consider a proposal’s contributions to climate change and potential impacts on landowners and environmental justice [10]. Continue reading