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Opposition grows for expanded Pacific Northwest pipeline as decision nears

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Eric Tegethoff

(Washington News Service) The potential expansion of a fracked-gas pipeline in the Northwest faces growing resistance as a decision from the federal government nears.

The Gas Transmission Northwest pipeline moves fracked gas from Canada to California. The Canadian company TC Energy's proposed "GTN Xpress" would expand the pipeline dramatically.

The company is waiting for approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

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Dan Serres, conservation director for the group Columbia Riverkeeper, said attorneys general from California, Oregon and Washington have sent a letter urging the agency to deny the proposal.

"The states are arguing to FERC that one, there's no demand for GTN Xpress. Two, GTN Xpress directly conflicts with the states' greenhouse-gas reduction goals. And three, there are negative impacts from this project to communities along the pipeline route," Serres outlined.

If approved, he noted, the emissions created by the expanded pipeline would be equivalent to adding 754,000 cars to the road every year. Gas Transmission Northwest said the project is necessary to provide a reliable source of fuel to the region. FERC could make a decision on the expansion proposal as soon as July 27.

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The pipeline runs across eastern and southeast Washington, and through central Oregon. Serres acknowledged FERC has been talking about environmental justice and listening to communities when they raise concerns about energy projects. He argued they have an opportunity with this proposal to follow through on their promise.

"It's incumbent on the Biden administration to 'walk the talk,'" Serres contended. "To actually follow through and translate what they're saying about environmental justice and the voices of communities into their decision-making."

Serres added Washington Utility and Transportation Commission members were skeptical of the necessity for the project at a meeting in early June.