Biden Administration Approves Significant Pacific Northwest Gas Pipeline Despite Opposition

In a significant development, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the nation’s leading energy regulator, granted approval for a substantial natural gas expansion initiative in the Pacific Northwest. The Gas Transmission Northwest XPress Project (GTNXP), championed by TC Energy, received the green light with a certificate issued by FERC on Thursday.

New Projects

The GTNXP project entails the enhancement of three existing compressor stations and the augmentation of capacity within an established system responsible for transporting natural gas over several decades. This project garnered support from a wide spectrum, including GOP lawmakers in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, as well as various labor unions, all of whom urged FERC to endorse the certificate.

The $75 million project, outlined in TC Energy’s October 2021 application to FERC, aims to boost GTN’s mainline capacity by 150,000 dekatherms daily. This expansion could provide energy for approximately 500,000 more homes in the region. The GTN pipeline currently traverses Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, catering to the energy needs of California customers.

In a statement, Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer, R-Ore., expressed her satisfaction with the commission’s decision to allow the much-needed energy project to proceed. She had previously led a bipartisan group in urging FERC to take action, emphasizing the project’s support for domestic energy production, enhancement of energy security, and potential utility bill reduction for families.

Notably, Chavez-DeRemer, along with fellow Oregon GOP Rep. Cliff Bentz, four other House Republicans, and Idaho GOP Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch, penned a letter to FERC leadership earlier this month. Their letter advocated for the immediate approval of the pipeline expansion project, citing benefits to constituents, alignment with climate goals, and the provision of “energy certainty” for the region.

Bipartisan Decision

TC Energy’s spokesperson, Michael Tadeo, expressed gratitude for FERC’s bipartisan decision and emphasized the pivotal role the GTN XPress project would play in maintaining affordable and dependable energy access for consumers in California and the broader Pacific Northwest. Tadeo affirmed the commitment to swiftly put the project into action.

Amidst a backdrop of increasing demand for natural gas transportation along the GTN pipeline system, TC Energy’s project focuses predominantly on software and infrastructure upgrades. Recent years have witnessed a 26% surge in demand for gas transport, while local natural gas production has dwindled. The pipeline serves as a vital conduit for delivering gas supplies to utility companies, which in turn cater to residential, commercial, and industrial customers.

This call to action followed FERC’s repeated delays in approving the project, a move that had raised questions. The delays occurred amid pressure from Democrats and environmental groups who sought to reject the project’s application, despite FERC’s leadership under Willie Phillips, a Democrat appointed by President Biden.

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