Why Does Oregon Join Western States In Opposing More Natural Gas From Canada’s Pipeline?

Oregon opposes a proposal that will increase natural gas from Canada to the West Coast. Calgary-based TC Energy’s 1,400-mile pipeline supplies billions of cubic feet of natural gas to Northwest and California utilities daily. The pipeline runs from Canada-Idaho to Klamath County’s Malin.

According to Oregon’s Department of Energy, natural gas heats and powers at least a quarter of all residences.

TC Energy asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to boost its capacity in October 2021, adding millions of cubic feet of natural gas daily.

Ellen Rosenblum joined Rob Bonta and Bob Ferguson in requesting the commission to refuse the motion on Aug. 22.

The attorneys general said that letting additional natural gas from Canada to the U.S. would hinder the states’ attempts to mitigate climate change as the region turns to renewable energy sources.

Natural gas, mostly methane, contributes to global warming.

When burned, methane produces the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, which also traps heat. According to the EPA, methane retains 30 times as much heat as carbon dioxide.

The attorneys general also asserted that existing customers will pay for expanding the natural gas supply, violating commission regulation.

They urged the panel should rule the project unlawfully funded, unnecessary, and against the public interest.

TC Energy said it is boosting capacity owing to increased demand from western users, which “further emphasizes the necessity for stable energy to augment renewables as we progress toward a cleaner energy future.”

The Oregon Department of Justice declined to respond because of the petition. The justice department’s communications director stated, “We’ll let our filings speak for themselves.”

Oregon Join Western States In Opposing More Natural Gas From Canada's Pipeline
Oregon Join Western States In Opposing More Natural Gas From Canada’s Pipeline

The Pipelines

The 61-year-old Gas Transmission Northwest Express pipeline transports 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily from western Canada to the West Coast. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says 1 billion cubic feet can power 5 million homes for a day.

Last fall, the company asked the Federal Energy Commission for permission to invest $335 million in pipeline upgrades to increase capacity by 150 million cubic feet per day. Attorneys general challenged the need for more natural gas and said the firm gave contradicting reasons for the proposed expansion, telling investors raising capacity would boost market share and telling the federal commission it needs to satisfy rising demand.

Allowing the corporation to provide more natural gas to the states violates their regulations to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and will discharge 3.47 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide for at least 30 years.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a climate executive order in 2020 to minimize greenhouse gas emissions.

The next three decades should see a 90% drop from 1990 levels. Gas utilities must contribute 26% of the reduction. Attorneys general says reducing emissions from large private and public emitters will lower regional natural gas demand.

Los Angeles, Berkeley, and Eugene are considering banning new natural gas hookups. New requirements in California require electric heating and appliances in new buildings.

Attorneys general claimed the idea would help Canadian gas companies gain market share, not American customers.

“Natural gas is a vital component of any strategy to address North America’s long-term energy needs,” TC Energy commented in response.

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