Photo Credit: Dan Villa, 350Tacoma
What is Tacoma LNG?
The Tacoma Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility is a refinery proposed by Puget Sound Energy (PSE) on the Tacoma Tideflats, located on the ancestral territory of the Puyallup Tribe. The facility is capable of refining and storing 8 million gallons of liquefied fracked gas. Although it is largely constructed, the facility is not yet operational and is currently being challenged in court by environmental advocates and the Puyallup Tribe.
Project Impacts and Concerns
Citing climate, health, and safety concerns, the project has faced years of fierce opposition from the local community and from the Puyallup Tribe, whose treaty territory includes areas where the facility is located.
The facility, which stores and requires transport of extremely volatile materials by pipeline, ship, and truck, is located immediately adjacent to the Puyallup Reservation, the residential neighborhood of Northeast Tacoma, an immigration detention center holding up to 1,575, and several other high-risk facilities including the US Oil Refinery and toxic superfund sites in the Port. The refinery would also emit toxins including benzene, xylene, toluene, and particulate matter, known to cause asthma, cancer, birth defects, and premature death among other health conditions. In addition to these immediate health and safety concerns, community organizations and the Puyallup Tribe cite that the project essentially functions as a massive fracked gas storage facility, locking in major new fossil fuel infrastructure that undermines Washington’s ability to meet our state climate goals. The new fracked gas facility is also at odds with the Climate Emergency Declarations issued by both the City of Tacoma and the Puyallup Tribe in 2019.
In addition to these risks, permitting agencies responsible for the project also failed to engage the Puyallup Tribe in meaningful consultation. These concerns have also been affirmed by the Tacoma Human Rights Commission, which urged the City of Tacoma to conduct additional evaluation due to the failure to properly consult the Puyallup Tribe, and the risks that the facility poses to tribal members and people detained at the Northwest Detention Center. This additional evaluation was never conducted.
Appeal and Current Project Status
On April 12-23, 2021 the Puyallup Tribe and the five environmental organizations challenging Tacoma LNG’s permits, represented by Earthjustice, had a hearing before the Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB). These appeals are attempting to invalidate PSE’s air permits issued by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA), on the grounds that they were issued based on flawed and inadequate analysis that dramatically underestimated the climate impacts of the project. If advocates are successful in their appeal, PSCAA would be required to conduct a new environmental analysis and permitting process in order for PSE to operate the facility.
In January, 2021, Washington Attorney General filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit challenging PSE’s LNG facility, stating that “by obscuring the Project’s actual climate impact and omitting the speculative nature of its assumptions, the FSEIS failed in its primary purpose under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).”
Currently, the litigants are also requesting that the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) delay approval for PSE to begin operating the facility in May, which would be months before the PCHB issues a decision on the legal challenges to the facility, and is only possible because PSE began illegally constructing the facility years before receiving all the necessary permits.
Take Meaningful Action
Your message can be in any language and even just your favorite environmental quote. We want to keep this dangerous facility in the public eye as the Puyallup Tribe and Earthjustice prepare for court.
- Comprehensive Tacoma LNG backgrounder and timeline
- Letter from EarthJustice to the Utilities and Transportation Commission