FERC approves pipeline expansion project for the Pacific Northwest

OREGON – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted Thursday to approve a gas transmission pipeline project for construction along the Pacific Northwest.

The project, operated by Canadian-based company TC energy, will update and expand existing natural gas pipelines that have been in operation since the 1960s.

“Today’s decision by the federal regulatory commission is completely outrageous,” said U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D – Oregon).

Senator Merkley is one of four Democratic U.S. senators along the west coast who opposed this expansion project.

Governor Tina Kotek (D – Oregon) and the Attorney Generals of Oregon, Washington, and California also took a stance against this project.

“You have the extraordinary situation in which the governors of Oregon and Washington weighed in,” Sen. Merkley said.

Senator Merkley says FERC’s own analysis the expanded pipeline will cause $8.8 billion in damages, and contribute 1.9 million metric tons of carbon per year in pollution to the Pacific Northwest

He says this decision is a step in the wrong direction of where the west coast wanted to go with renewable energy.

“There’s no need when the entire plan of the states is to greatly reduce our dependence on fossil methane gas and pivot to renewable energy.”

On the other side of the aisle, Southern Oregon congressman Cliff Bentz (OR-02) is one of many Republicans in Washington backing it.

He says he’s been in support of this expansion project and its planned contributions to Oregon’s energy grid.

He and other members of congress sent a letter October 6th to FERC saying “natural gas use can actually help states like Oregon, which currently relies on coal for 25% of its electricity generation, meet carbon reduction goals by incorporating cleaner burning fuels like natural gas into the electric grid.”

The letter went on to say this project will help reduce energy costs to residents across the impacted states.

Senator Merkley however, says this plan will do the exact opposite.

“The company is going to spend large sums increasing the capacity of this pipeline,” Merkley told NBC5.  “They’re not going to absorb those costs, they’re going to be absorbed by consumers paying more.”

TC energy spokesperson Michael Tadeo commented on rates, saying the company is dedicated to keeping energy reliable and affordable for consumers.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) also came out against this project, saying this pipeline will “enrich a Canadian company with a troubling safety record.”

In December of 2022, a pipeline owned by TC energy in Kansas spilled around 600 thousand gallons of oil into a nearby stream.

In July of this year, another one of the company’s pipelines in Virginia exploded, causing a fire.  No injuries were reported from this fire.

“Of course we’re suffering under terrible drought, terrible forest fires, and loss of water for our farmers and ranchers,” Senator Merkley said.  “Why make all that worse to make profit for a Canadian fracking company?”

TC energy says it will work to implement the expansion as soon as possible.

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Taylar Ansures is a producer and reporter for NBC5 News. Taylar is from Redding, California and went to California State University, Chico. After graduating, she joined KRCR News Channel 7 in Redding as a morning producer. She moved to Southern Oregon in 2022 to be closer to family and became KTVL News 10’s digital producer. Taylar is currently finishing her Master's Degree in Professional Creative Writing through the University of Denver. In her free time, Taylar frequents independent bookstores and explores hiking trails across Southern Oregon and Northern California.
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