October 30, 2022
Helen Yost, Wild Idaho Rising Tide
Maig Tinnin, Rogue Climate
Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions
Regional organizations and grassroots activists of 350 Spokane, Extinction Rebellion Palouse, Idaho Chapter Sierra Club, Rogue Climate, Veterans for Peace Spokane Chapter 35, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) are co-hosting three early November protests of the Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) Xpress pipeline expansion project. These allied groups are publicly demonstrating in solidarity with frontline, indigenous, Wet’suwet’en protectors of their sovereignty and unceded territories from Coastal GasLink pipeline construction in British Columbia. The Canadian fossil fuels parent company of GTN, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), notoriously owns Coastal GasLink and the incomplete Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
As an essential part of its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), GTN must disclose pre-arranged, binding, precedent agreements with natural gas utilities, to demonstrate economic need and public interest in the project. Cascade Natural Gas, headquartered in Kennewick, Washington, has reserved an extra 20 million cubic feet per day of GTN Xpress gas, for delivery to Oregon and Washington customers. Intermountain Gas based in Boise, Idaho, has agreed to accept 79 million cubic feet of gas per day, more than half of GTN Xpress gas capacity. Only passing through the sparsely populated north Idaho panhandle, GTN Xpress gas for southern Idaho would displace some Williams Northwest pipeline gas across the Snake River Plain utility service area.
A growing Northwest movement and emerging coalition are planning peaceful, effective citizen pickets on nearby walkways outside fossil fuels corporate offices, to confront the perpetrators of the Coastal GasLink and GTN Xpress gas pipelines and attract a broad range of public involvement. Volunteer organizers encourage participants and supporters of these lively demonstrations to bring friends, families, signs, banners, and props, and share this event announcement and flyer and other issue outreach materials.
- 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
- Wednesday, November 2, 4 pm PDT at Cascade Natural Gas, 8113 West Grandridge Boulevard, Kennewick, Washington: Gather on the south sidewalk
- Friday, November 4, 4 pm MDT at Intermountain Gas, 555 South Cole Road, Boise, Idaho: Converge on the west walkway near the Farmers Lateral Canal
Attempting to foist stranded “natural” gas assets on unwitting citizens and utility ratepayers, TC Energy has stealthily secured approval by government regulatory agencies for increasing volumes in a dozen other pipelines, instead of building new, more controversial infrastructure. GTN has applied to FERC for a required certificate of public convenience and necessity for GTN Xpress, to upgrade the capacity of three compressor stations and move an additional 150 million cubic feet per day of methane gas along its 1,354-mile pipeline from British Columbia, through north Idaho, eastern Washington, and central Oregon, to southern Idaho and California. The 61-year-old, potentially explosive, fracked gas pipeline is dangerously located under the Spokane, Washington, area and below Sandpoint, Idaho and a nearby Schweitzer ski resort parking lot. The Athol, Idaho, pump station proposed for expansion stands only two miles from the popular visitor destination and precarious rides of Silverwood Theme Park.
As another industrial corridor for increasing corporate profits and imposing risks with few benefits on neighboring communities, GTN Xpress would extend fossil fuels extraction and industry and government violence toward First Nations people and their lands and waters around the pipeline origin, and would dismiss the public input process rights and jeopardize the health and safety of directly affected, rural and tribal residents close to the pipeline route and compressor stations, with higher exposure to volatile and cancer-causing emissions and hazardous gas leaks, explosions, and accidents. With current GTN pipeline volumes already double the market demand that is rapidly decreasing, while renewable energy costs decline, GTN Xpress would boost Northwest gas consumption, burden utility ratepayers with expensively investing in prolonged fossil fuels infrastructure, and disproportionately impact low-income communities with worse respiratory diseases. This boondoggle would increase the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change by 3.25 million-plus metric tons per year (up 16 percent in Idaho, 7.7 percent in Oregon, and 3.8 percent in Washington) and exacerbate the extreme droughts, wildfires, storms, floods, and global air, water, and climate pollution attributed to fossil fuels.
During its comment period on the GTN Xpress draft environmental impact statement (EIS) that closed on August 22, FERC received over 1,300 oppositional petition signatures and extensive remarks from concerned citizens, climate and environmental groups, and tribal, state, and federal government officials, denouncing deficient climate effects analysis, inadequate evidence of economic need, and the pipeline expansion’s significant contributions to worsening climate change, while the Northwest transitions off outmoded, destructive fossil fuels toward more sustainable, renewable energy sources.
The attorneys general of Washington, Oregon, and California filed joint comments calling on FERC to deny a GTN Xpress permit and motioning to intervene in the FERC case. They raised concerns that the pipeline expansion would force more fossil fuels on West Coast state residents for at least another 30 years, violate state policy commitments to reduce climate-polluting emissions by 80 to 95 percent by 2050, and make these ambitious but crucial targets more difficult to achieve. In more recent comments to FERC, Idaho senators, congressmen, and the governor disputed the legal basis of the West Coast state attorneys general arguments. The commission still has not granted, and GTN has motioned against, the case involvement of these attorneys general. With postponed release of a final EIS anticipated on November 18 and a conclusive FERC decision on GTN Xpress expected in February 2023, Northwest communities are acting swiftly to halt this proposal and oppose any new or expanded fossil fuels extraction, transportation, and infrastructure projects.
For further information, visit the WIRT website and facebook pages describing GTN Xpress impacts and updates and pipeline resistance opportunities: