Utility Regulators Should Resist Fracked Gas Expansion
Cascade Natural Gas is a Main Customer for TC Energy’s GTN Xpress Project
Years of community activism and public pressure have changed the landscape for fracked gas in the Northwest. Community organizing and advocacy have been instrumental in stopping major new gas terminals, power plants, and pipelines. For example, Oregon rejected the Pacific Connector pipeline, and Washington recently passed new rules to phase out gas in many types of buildings. These hard-won victories should decrease fracked gas in the Northwest, but major fracked gas companies are trying to lock in more fossil gas anyway.
As activism has made new fracked gas pipelines harder to build, fracked gas pipeline companies are turning to a new tactic—pushing more gas through existing pipelines. Fossil fuel pipeline giant TC Energy is proposing to increase compression on its existing GTN pipeline, a project called GTN Xpress. TC Energy’s major proposed gas expansion would push more Canadian fracked gas through an aging pipeline despite objections from Oregon, Washington, and California. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will make a decision on the GTN Xpress project in 2023.
Before making a decision on the GTN Xpress project, FERC must determine whether the project is in the public interest, weighing the project’s negative impacts against the companies’ claims about increased demand for gas. Washington and Oregon regulators have an opportunity to send a signal that GTN Xpress is not in the public interest. Already, Washington and Oregon’s Attorneys General have opposed the project because it directly conflicts with Washington and Oregon’s new laws requiring reductions in greenhouse gas pollution—laws that should diminish future fracked gas use.
Washington and Oregon’s lead energy regulators have an important role to play in showing why the Northwest does not need GTN Xpress. Cascade Natural Gas is a main customer for the GTN Xpress project. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) and Oregon Public Utilities Commission (OPUC) decide which costs Cascade Natural Gas can pass on to existing ratepayers. The WUTC and OPUC require the gas company to put forward a plan to meet customer needs without bilking ratepayers, and the Commissioners can disapprove proposals that conflict with the interests of Northwest residents and the utility’s customers.
Washington and Oregon’s lead energy regulators should reject Cascade’s plans to have ratepayers pay for a major new gas expansion project at a time when the states’ new laws and rules are working to reduce the Northwest’s reliance on fracked gas.
- If you live in Washington, send an email urging WUTC regulators to push back on Cascade Natural Gas’ plans to expand fracked gas in the Northwest.
- If you live in Oregon, send an email urging OPUC regulators to push back on Cascade Natural Gas’ plans to expand fracked gas in the Northwest.
Already, communities across the Northwest are resisting the gas industry’s expansion plans. The company that owns the aging GTN pipeline, TC Energy, was responsible for a major pipeline rupture and oil spill from its Keystone oil pipeline in December 2022. The spill may have been exacerbated by TC Energy’s decision to increase fossil fuel throughput in the Keystone pipeline. Now, with Cascade’s help, TC Energy hopes to push more fracked gas through its GTN pipeline in Washington. More flammable, climate-changing fuel in the same old pipeline? Attorneys General from Oregon, Washington and California have stated that TC Energy’s proposal poses environmental justice, wildfire, and health and safety concern for frontline communities. GTN Xpress is a bad plan. Washington and Oregon regulators should resist this new fracked gas expansion by holding Cascade accountable.
The momentum against GTN Xpress is building. Thousands of people across the Northwest are urging the federal government to deny the project. In December 2022, Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley called on FERC to deny the project. And just a few weeks ago, the Attorneys General of Oregon, Washington, and California doubled down on their objections to the project, calling for FERC to deny the GTN Xpress project. Working together, we can hold the line on the gas expansion plans of TC Energy and Cascade Natural Gas.
Urge OPUC regulators to push back on Cascade Natural Gas’ plans to expand fracked gas in the Northwest.
Washington and Oregon’s lead energy regulators have an important role to play in showing why the Northwest does not need GTN Xpress.