Environmental groups oppose pipeline expansion in the Pacific Northwest

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SALEM, Ore. — The U.S. government has taken a step toward approving a natural gas pipeline expansion in the Pacific Northwest — a move opposed by environmentalists and Oregon attorneys general , California and Washington State.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, announced on Friday that it had completed an environmental impact statement concluding that the project “would cause limited adverse environmental impacts.”

“Most of the adverse environmental impacts would be temporary or short-term,” the federal agency said.

A local coalition of environmental groups said the analysis conflicts with Pacific Northwest states’ climate goals and fails to “address upstream methane emissions from the harmful practice of fracking. hydraulic”.

The Gas Transmission Northwest pipeline is owned by TC Energy of Calgary, Canada – the same company behind the now abandoned Keystone XL crude oil pipeline.

Gas Transmission Northwest is proposing to modify three existing compressor stations along the pipeline – in Kootenai County, Idaho; Walla Walla County, Washington; and Sherman County, Oregon — to increase capacity by approximately 150 million cubic feet per day of natural gas. The company says the project is necessary to meet consumer demand.

The 1,377-mile (2,216-kilometer) pipeline runs from the Canadian border, crosses a corner of Idaho and into Washington state and Oregon, connecting with a pipeline going to California.

In August, the attorneys general of Oregon, Washington and California called on FERC to reject the proposal, saying the expansion is expected to result in more than 3.24 million metric tons of emissions of greenhouse gases per year, including methane and carbon dioxide.

“This project undermines Washington State’s efforts to address climate change,” Washington State Attorney General Ferguson said at the time. “This pipeline is bad for the environment and bad for consumers.”

The local coalition said the federal study did not adequately address the adverse climate impacts caused by the project, including hydraulic fracturing to obtain natural gas. The energy industry uses the technique to extract oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel, and chemicals. But the technique increases emissions of methane, an extraordinarily potent greenhouse gas.

“FERC’s approach will make the climate crisis worse, minimizing the impacts of a proposal that will pollute our communities, affect health and safety and create millions of tons of climate pollution every year,” said Lauren Goldberg, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, an environmental group based in Hood River, Oregon.

The regulatory commission’s study noted that its staff were unable to assess the project’s contribution to greenhouse gases “through objective analysis”.

“Climate change is a global concern,” the federal study said. “However, for this analysis, we will focus on the existing and potential cumulative impacts of climate change in the project area.”

TC Energy said Saturday it was reviewing the environmental impact statement, which recommended some mitigation measures.

The company has “secured long-term agreements with customers for 100% of the project’s capacity,” TC Energy said in an email. “This further demonstrates the need for secure energy to complement renewables as we work towards a cleaner energy future.”

FERC is expected to make its final decision on the proposal on Feb. 16, the environmental coalition said.

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