As we feared, and warned only yesterday, in the midst of the global pandemic the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conditionally approved the Jordan Cove fracked gas export terminal and Pacific Connector pipeline today.
The approval is conditioned on Pembina, the Canadian fossil fuel corporation behind the project, qualifying for critical permits from the state of Oregon, three of which have already been denied or withdrawn. But it’s still an incredibly disappointing decision from a rogue, rubber stamp agency.
It was only last Thursday that Senate Republicans rammed through a vote on James Danly to be a new commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Danly is the first totally partisan nominee – traditionally one Democrat and one Republican are nominated together. While a handful of Senators commented on the unusual decision to stack a supposedly bi-partisan commission with three Republicans and one Democrat.
And more than 14,000 of us wrote demanding changes at FERC, and we delivered all your signatures to each Senator before the vote. But Danly is a fossil fuel industry darling, and Senators Murkowski, Manchin, and McConnell were eager for him to secure their majority on FERC, which oversees all inter-state pipelines and fossil fuel export facilities. Hours after Danly was confirmed FERC fast-tracked the application to build the Jordan Cove gas export terminal proposed in Oregon, which was denied a permit by one vote in February.
I’m not sure which is more frustrating: The fact that Senate Republicans stacked the commission so they could ram through a fossil fuel project, or that the Republican FERC majority took the time to meet during a pandemic to approve a project that the Oregon communities, their elected officials, and local environmental agencies already oppose.
For now, the good news is that Jordan Cove and the Pacific Connector Pipeline can’t be built unless and until local permits are issued — and three of them have been rejected in the last few months. As for what’s next, I’ll re-iterate our request to keep your eyes on the frontlines. You can do that by staying in touch with our friends at Beyond Extreme Energy about next steps on FERC, and you can sign on petition in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en.
You can also call on the Senate not to repeat their mistake this week by telling them to focus Corona virus response on people and communities, and not corporations and polluters. The Senate is starting debate tonight on a potential trillion dollar relief package for the corona virus. Initial bad ideas included direct bailouts of the fracking and fossil fuel industries. The more recent bad ideas have included a big bailout of the airline industry (who needs help to support workers, but doesn’t deserve a bailout without strings and scrutiny). Click here to tell your Senators to make sure any economic recovery bill helps workers and communities – not corporations and polluters.