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Murray V. "Vee" Godley III

Northwest Innovation Works President Murray V. "Vee" Godley III.

Bill Wagner / The Daily News

Northwest Innovation Works’ proposed $1 billion methanol refineries in Kalama and Tacoma, and a third refinery in Clatskanie, will be built using the latest clean and low-carbon energy technologies.

Professor Wu Lebin, chairman of Chinese Academy of Sciences Holding, NW Innovation’s parent company, was in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to sign an agreement pledging commitment to the new technologies. The signing coincided with the final day of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue held each year between the United States and Chinese national governments.

Each of NW Innovation’s three projects have an estimated cost of $1 billion. Chinese Academy of Sciences is a key partner in the development of these refineries, in which natural gas would be converted to methanol and exported to Asia.

The methanol is used to make olefin, which is found in thousands of plastic items such as containers, cell phones and carpet fibers. Northwest says making methanol from natural gas is far cleaner than making it from coal, and it produces less carbon, the gas involved in climate change.

“I’m honored to join Chairman Lebin today in furthering this important relationship for Washington State,” state Department of Commerce director Brian Bonlender said in a statement released Wednesday. “Gov. Inslee is committed to our state being a leader in shaping the low-carbon future while creating jobs here in Washington State. Today we are seeing how the Governor’s vision is attracting job-creating projects.”

Bonlender said Wednesday’s signing is consistent with and partly inspired by the historic U.S.-China agreement on energy and climate change announced by U.S. President Barak Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping last November.

Shari Phiel covers courts, county government, environment and transportation. Contact her at 360-577-2510 or


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