In mid-February, representatives of North America’s Building Trades Unions presented President Donald Trump a list of 26 infrastructure projects for which they are requesting fast-track regulatory approval, McClatchey reported last week. The list includes six major oil and gas pipelines, including at least two that have engendered major opposition from impacted local residents on grounds similar to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
One is Williams Co.’s Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Pennsylvania, an expansion of the Transco line — the US’ largest natural gas pipeline. It would carry 1.7 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas 199 miles from the Marcellus shale region, where gas is extracted using hydraulic fracturing. It would cross 388 water bodies and 263 acres of forest. The group Lancaster Against Pipelines is opening an encampment to create a focal point for nonviolent direct actions.
The second is Canadian company Veresen’s Jordan Cove Liquid Natural Gas Project in Oregon, which would consist of both the 233-mile Pacific Connector Pipeline and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Coos Bay, OR. It would be the first liquefied natural gas terminal ever constructed on the US Pacific Coast (though there is one in Baja, CA, in Mexico).
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denied Calgary-based Veresen a permit to construct the pipeline twice, in March 2016 and Dec. 2016. Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, however, the FERC granted Versen authorization to re-submit the permit. And the company has indeed refiled – they are even proposing 33 percent more tanker ships than before.
Meanwhile, Trump is in the process of selecting new appointees to FERC, which is composed of five commissioners appointed solely by the president.
“The only change that’s taken place since FERC’s original denials is a change in presidential administrations,” Francis Eatherington, a former long-time Cascadia Wildlands staff member and current advisory board member, as well as a property owner in the route of the pipeline, said in an interview last week. “We’re sweating it a bit now because of the things Trump has said and done.”
The Pacific Connector Pipeline (PCP) would transport fracked natural gas from Alberta, Wyoming, and Colorado. Upon reaching Coos Bay, it would be cooled into a liquid form and exported on giant tanker ships to Asia.
The pipeline would pass under several major rivers, including many home to endangered and protected fish species. Among other impacts, it would involve a 100-foot-wide linear clear-cut through numerous stretches of mature forest. The PCP would essentially be an extension of the 680-mile Ruby pipeline: the second biggest source of natural gas to Northern California power plants. PG&E co-owns that pipeline, which was completed in 2011.
Even if FERC approves the Jordan Cove LNG Project and PCP pipeline, it would still needs to secure funding, acquire local permits, and stave off potential legal challenges. Veresen would also still need to obtain more than 200 non-industrial private parcels through eminent domain.
The struggle against the Jordan Cove project involves a coalition of indigenous and environmental activists in Southern Oregon and Northern California. But as much of American labor remains wedded to the fossil fuel economy, Trump is hard at work co-opting this segment under his brand of dystopian nationalist populism.
I’m working on an in-depth story about the Jordan Cove project. Stay tuned.