Deny the applications for Cumberland and Ridgeline Expansion Projects

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Time for a clean energy future in the Tennnessee Valley

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling limits how the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants through the Clean Air Act, which is a foundational law that protects our nation’s air quality from corporate polluters. Now more than ever, the federally-owned Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) should be setting an example for utilities across the country by implementing a plan to reach 100% fossil fuel-free energy by 2030.

Instead, TVA has proposed to invest billions of ratepayer dollars into the second largest methane gas buildout of any utility in the country, and it plans to start by replacing two of its retiring coal plants with methane gas. Soon, two major pipeline companies will submit applications to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build more than 150 miles of new pipelines to deliver toxic methane gas to TVA’s proposed gas plants.

TVA has other options for replacing this generation by investing in reliable, renewable energy including solar, battery storage and energy efficiency instead of more fossil fuels. These pipeline proposals are unnecessary and would line the pockets of out-of-state fossil fuel companies while residents in the TVA service area suffer from higher bills and devastating public and environmental health impacts.

Take action now by asking FERC to deny the applications for these dangerous and unnecessary pipeline projects!

To: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
From: Jennifer Lawhorne

Despite clear indications that new methane gas infrastructure does not serve the interest of Tennesseans and in fact exacerbates the climate crisis, the Tennessee Valley Authority wants to spend billions of ratepayer dollars to replace its aging coal plants with new fossil fuel infrastructure. I strongly oppose the proposed Cumberland Pipeline and Ridgeline Expansion projects because TVA has the option to implement fossil fuel-free energy instead of building new gas infrastructure. I respectfully urge you to deny the applications for the proposed Cumberland Project (PF22-2-000) and Ridgeline Expansion Project (PF22-7-000) or, at the very least, require these projects to complete full environmental impact studies.

These pipeline projects would exclusively serve the TVA’s proposed gas plants in Stewart and Roane counties in Tennessee. TVA doesn’t need this polluting infrastructure because it can and should instead invest in clean energy portfolios for replacing its retiring coal plants at Kingston and Cumberland.

Communities in the Tennessee Valley, who experience some of the highest energy burdens in the country, are already seeing higher electric bills as TVA passes on the costs of skyrocketing methane gas prices directly to ratepayers. Despite TVA claiming a new gas plant would spur economic development in the Valley, the agency’s own analysis for replacing the Cumberland Fossil Plant shows that a methane gas plant and pipeline would provide limited job outcomes - just 1,000 temporary jobs and 25-35 permanent positions for the Cumberland City area.

Meanwhile, the pipelines associated with these plants would have devastating environmental and public health impacts. The proposed 32-mile Cumberland pipeline would cross more than 130 wetlands and streams over three counties. Even more, TVA’s DEIS failed to provide comprehensive analysis of the enumerative negative impacts the gas plant and pipeline would have on the health and safety of nearby communities, especially environmental justice communities who have disproportionately borne the brunt of our over reliance on fossil fuels.

Clearly, the costs outweigh the benefits of these projects. This unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure would saddle communities with decades more of pollution, hazardous health impacts, and high energy bills. If FERC permits these applications, it has the responsibility to require these pipeline companies to provide full environmental impact statements that examine the risks of these pipelines to environmental justice, water quality, the climate, public lands and impacted communities.

We are in an energy and climate crisis. President Biden himself stated that this moment should be a catalyst for the deployment of fossil fuel-free energy. As a federal utility, TVA can and should be at the forefront of this transition, leading the way toward a zero carbon emission energy sector by 2035. I therefore urge you to reject the applications for these two new dangerous and unnecessary pipeline projects.