Western State Attorneys General Seek to Halt Capacity Expansion of GTN Pipeline

Monday, August 22, 2022
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today filed a motion to intervene and request that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) deny the proposed capacity expansion of the Gas Transmission Northwest Express (GTN) pipeline. The Western states also submitted comments criticizing FERC’s draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the capacity expansion. The proposed capacity expansion would increase the amount of natural gas carried by the pipeline by 150 million cubic feet per day, resulting in increased greenhouse gas emissions and downstream impacts on nearby environmental justice communities. In the motion, the Western states argue that GTN’s application has not demonstrated sufficient evidence of a public need or that the project is in the public interest. In the comments, the Western states stress that FERC’s draft EIS entirely fails to analyze these impacts or to reconcile the expansion with state laws and policies promoting renewable energy, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. 

“Today, I’m joining my colleagues in Washington and Oregon in calling on FERC to deny the proposed GTN pipeline expansion or at the very least address the inadequacy of the environmental review,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Expanding the capacity of this pipeline would have significant environmental and public health impacts and is out of step with state and federal climate goals – and FERC can’t honestly say otherwise. The reality is, when we expand gas infrastructure, it’s all too often minority, low-income, and Indigenous communities that pay the price. I urge FERC to comply with the law and not allow this expansion to move forward.” 

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

“The West Coast is experiencing very real impacts of climate change and leading the climate fight, so it is fitting that Oregon, Washington, and California band together on this joint motion asking FERC to take a hard look at this pipeline proposal,” said Attorney General Rosenblum.

The GTN pipeline currently stretches 1,377 miles from Kingsgate in British Columbia, Canada, to Malin, Oregon, terminating just north of California and connecting directly to other pipelines that deliver natural gas throughout the state. In October 2021, TC Energy – the same company behind the now-abandoned Keystone XL pipeline – submitted an application to FERC to expand the capacity of the GTN pipeline. The expansion is expected to result in more than 3.24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases emissions per year, including methane and carbon dioxide, and generate an estimated $12 billion in social costs. Expanding pipeline infrastructure also often has downstream effects such as air pollution and environmental harms to nearby communities. 

Despite this, FERC classifies the potential climate impacts of the expansion project as neither significant nor insignificant in its draft EIS. FERC also asserts that the expansion will not result in significant environmental impacts, and that any adverse impacts will be minor, temporary, and localized.

In joint comments, the Western states highlight that FERC’s draft EIS is deficient in several key respects in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, and in a joint motion, the states argue that TC Energy's application to expand the GTN pipeline should be denied. Specifically, the states argue that:

  • FERC's draft EIS fails to accurately characterize and sufficiently analyze the climate change impacts of the expanded GTN pipeline;
  • FERC's draft EIS fails to consider a reasonable range of alternatives, including a “no action” alternative;
  • FERC's draft EIS does not acknowledge or analyze the expanded GTN pipeline’s tension with the Western states’ climate and energy goals;
  • GTN’s application fails to demonstrate sufficient evidence of a public need for this capacity expansion; and
  • GTN’s application fails to show that the capacity expansion is in the public interest given its adverse effects.

A copy of the filings can be found here.

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