Health Professionals Urge FERC to Deny a Controversial Plan to Expand a Fracked Gas Pipeline

Health Professionals Urge FERC to Deny a Controversial Plan to Expand a Fracked Gas Pipeline
  • More than 500 physicians, nurses, and other public health officials signed onto a petition calling on FERC to deny TC Energy’s proposed fracked gas pipeline expansion
  • Pipeline passes through rural, low-income and Indigenous communities in Oregon, Washington and Idaho
More than 500 physicians, nurses and community members signed onto a letter urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to deny a proposed bid to expand shipments of fracked gas through an aging Northwest pipeline.
As soon as mid-March, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, could vote on whether to approve a bid from the Canadian-owned natural gas company TC Energy, the owner of the infamous Keystone Pipeline, to expand the amount of fracked gas exported through the aging Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) pipeline. The pipeline runs through communities across Idaho, Washington and Oregon, including low-income neighborhoods and lands important to indigenous communities.
Physicians and other medical professionals, including members of Physicians for Social Responsibility, are joining other community members in sounding the alarm about the impact the pipeline’s expansion could have on local communities. More than 500 people have signed onto the letter.
Pipelines and expansion projects are frequently approved at higher rates in rural, Indigenous and low-income communities, which force these communities to bear the health disparities such projects are associated with: air, water and noise pollution.
Should TC Energy’s bid be approved, the proposed expansion would include the construction of expanded or new compressors which vent methane and other volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. All of these air pollutants have serious health impacts, including increased risks of stroke, cancer, asthma and low birth weight and premature babies.
“We are in a climate crisis, where we are already experiencing the devastating effects of rising temperatures, the direct result of burning fossil fuels, including so-called “natural gas” i.e., methane,” said Ann Turner MD, a member of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. “As medical practitioners, we see the impact the climate crisis has on people each and every day. And we have a responsibility to sound the alarm. We urge FERC to prioritize the health of our most vulnerable communities over profit.”
“States in the Northwest have made great strides in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and creating healthier communities,” said Dr. Mark Vossler, board member at Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. “I urge FERC to consider the human health impact of the proposed pipeline expansion and respect the leadership of local, state and Tribal governments in addressing the climate crisis. FERC should deny the permit for this  pipeline expansion proposal which is both unnecessary to meet our energy needs and harmful to people in our communities.”
“Idahoans dread FERC approval of the GTN Xpress expansion project, which would force greater fracked gas volumes and hazardous emissions through the aging GTN pipeline. This expansion project would further threaten and harm the health and safety of rural communities, environments, and recreation economies for decades,” said Helen Yost of Wild Idaho Rising Tide. “This proposed expansion does not support the best interests of concerned Northwesterners living and working near compressor stations and the pipeline route.”
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  • About Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility works to protect human life from the gravest threats to health and survival. Learn more. 
  • About Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility engages the community to create a healthy, peaceful, just and sustainable world. Learn more. 
  • About San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility works to protect human life from the gravest threats to health and survival. Learn more. 
  • About Wild Idaho Rising Tide Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) confronts the root causes of climate change, water degradation, and air pollution, by asserting direct actions and promoting locally organized solutions, in solidarity with frontline communities of resistance and an international, volunteer, grassroots network of activists. Learn more.
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