Advocates and elected officials spoke at a meeting Monday night on the expansion of a natural gas pipeline that cuts through east Bend. One of them: Senator Jeff Merkley.
The pipeline, called the Gas Transmission Northwest, is 61 years old and runs from California to British Columbia.
350Deschutes, a non-profit that engages in Climate Advocacy and Climate Education, has concerns over plans to expand the GTN XPress gas pipeline.
“This would totally derail Oregon’s efforts to regulate emissions and to address climate change,” said 350Deschutes Executive Director Diane Hokiak. “As far as we can tell, we think that it comes within two miles of the downtown area and Bend, and we have identified that it actually runs through two proposed subdivisions on the east side.”
Protesters from 350 Deschutes gathered at Peace Corner in downtown Bend Friday to voice concerns about increased pollution and possible harm to the community.
“Ultimately, the decision is up to FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” said Satya Austin-Opper with 350Deschutes on Friday. “So, we want to make our voices heard because they haven’t really included a lot of public comment in this process so far, we don’t know when they’re going to make a decision on it, but it could be as early as next month.”
Several people testified on Monday and gave comments during a meeting on the pipeline, including Merkley.
“This is an unnecessary and it’s an unwanted project,” Merkley said. “It does the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve in Oregon, Pacific Northwest for our climate objectives to contribute to the solutions, not to make the problem worse.”
Merkley expressed concerns over global climate change partnerships over this potential expansion and the potential environmental impact it may have.
“This flew under the radar a bit because instead of a new pipeline, it’s doubling,” said Merkley. “The pressure in the existing pipeline doesn’t matter, equivalent to doubling the capacity of the pipeline, doubling the damage. And we have to double down in our fight against.”
Gas Transmission Northwest or GTN says they offer families and businesses in our area a safe and reliable source of fuel for things like cooking and utilities. They’ve also set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, including to achieve zero emissions from operations by 2050.