FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dan Serres, Co-Director, Power Past Fracked Gas Coalition, 503-890-2441
Damon Motz-Storey, Physicians for Social Responsibility, 303-913-5634
Ecology Finds Methanol Refinery Review Incomplete, Seeks Information on Spurious Carbon Claims
October 9, 2019, (Lacey, WA)—Today, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) put a permit decision on hold for a massive fracked gas-to-methanol refinery in Kalama, WA, stating the company behind the refinery provided insufficient information about its carbon footprint and environmental impact. Ecology questioned Northwest Innovation Works’ claims regarding greenhouse gases and asked for a comprehensive and thorough analysis of the project’s global and in-state carbon impact, including an assessment of burning the methanol as fuel. In April, leaked documents showed that the company was promoting methanol for fuel to potential investors, despite telling regulators the methanol would never be burned.
“Ecology is holding NWIW accountable,” said Dan Serres, Conservation Director with Columbia Riverkeeper and co-director of the Power Past Fracked Gas coalition. “NWIW has proposed the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery on the Columbia River, telling Washington regulators it will mysteriously help the help our climate. Ecology is following the law and seeking complete and accurate information before deciding on a permit of such importance.”
“Burning this refinery’s methanol as fuel would emit an additional five million tons of carbon per year to an already stunning amount of methane emissions and slow the transition to clean-energy vehicles,” said Cambria Keely, a 17 year-old student activist from Kalama. “We urge Washington’s climate leaders to ultimately deny this polluting proposal.”
“Asking tough questions is a good step,” said Linda Leonard, a Kalama resident. “But we aren’t going to rest until Washington nixes this climate disaster. The future of our community depends on it.”
“From its safety hazards to disastrous climate impacts, this refinery would seriously threaten human health,” said Dr. Mark Vossler, a cardiologist and the President of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Health professionals applaud Ecology’s careful review of this project, and we will continue to press Washington leaders to reject this dangerous fracked gas refinery.”
“The urgency of our climate crisis demands the highest level of scrutiny, and we cannot allow massive new fracked gas projects to move forward based on misleading evaluation,” says Joan Crooks, CEO of Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. “Today’s action underscores the importance of that.”
“Ignoring the massive impact this fracked gas-to-methanol refinery would have on our climate won’t make it go away, and we’re glad to see Ecology demand answers,” said Sept Gernez, Organizer with the Sierra Club Washington State Chapter. “We are counting on them to protect our communities by rejecting this dirty and dangerous proposal once and for all.”
Methanol refinery proponents have a November 7th deadline to provide the missing information.
Timeline of NWIW’s Methanol Proposals:
- 2014 – NWIW announces methanol refinery proposals in Kalama, WA, Tacoma, WA, and Port Westward, OR.
- 2016 – Facing fierce public opposition, NWIW cancels Tacoma methanol project.
- 2016 – Cowlitz County issues EIS and Shoreline Management Act permits for the Kalama methanol refinery; a coalition of groups appeal.
- September 2017 – Shorelines Hearings Board rules that EIS violates Washington rules for studying greenhouse gas pollution.
- July 2018 – Cowlitz County court agrees that the EIS violates Washington law.
- December 2018 – Cowlitz County releases Draft Supplemental EIS. 1,000 people attend hearing in Longview, WA, with the vast majority urging denial of the project. Over 25,000 send comments urging denial.
- April 2019 – Leaked powerpoint presentations show that NWIW mislead the public and regulators about the end use of methanol.
- May 2019 – Governor Inslee announces his opposition to the methanol refinery.
- September 2019 – Port and Cowlitz County release final Supplemental EIS.
- September 11, 2019 – Ecology begins review of Shorelines Conditional Use Permit.
- October 9, 2019 – Ecology requests more information to address major gaps in Supplemental EIS.
Power Past Fracked Gas is a growing coalition of Pacific Northwest health, environmental, faith, and community groups that believe in the power of clean energy and the value of clean water. We oppose new fracked gas infrastructure that locks our region into decades of continued reliance on dirty energy and harmful projects.
- Youth Climate Activists, various locations (September 2019), footage by Balance Media.
- Power Past Fracked Gas Rally, Olympia, WA (February 2019), photos by Ale Blakely.
- Power Past Fracked Gas Rally, Kalama, WA (May 2019), photos by Alex Milan Tracy