Over 80 public health experts, community and environmental organizations sent a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday asking him to ensure state agencies use the “highest possible standards of review” for major fracked gas projects, including the proposed Kalama methanol plant.
The letter says environmental studies for the Kalama methanol plant and Tacoma liquefied natural gas facility are inadequate and underestimate the climate, air pollution and seismic risks for these facilities, according to a press release from the Power Past Fracked Gas Coalition.
Last week, Inslee announced his opposition to the planned $2 billion gas-to-methanol plant, a reversal of his earlier support, as well as the construction of a Tacoma facility.
Inslee said his stance on the projects does not change the state’s regulatory process and its objective review of projects.
“But it’s time for us to modernize and update the ways we weigh the costs and benefits of all fossil fuels, including natural gas,” Inslee said in a statement last week. “I’ll be working with agency directors in the coming weeks to discuss the way forward.”
In 2015, Inslee had supported the plant that Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW) hopes to build at the Port of Kalama to convert natural gas into methanol for shipment to Asia.
The plant, according to the company, would create about 1,000 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs and generate millions of dollars in local taxes.
According to environmental studies, the Kalama plant would not release any water pollution and would have minor impacts on air quality. NWIW has pledged to compensate for all 1.1 million tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions in Washington, and a recent “cradle to grave” study showed it would have a net decrease on greenhouse gas emissions globally by displacing coal-fed methanol plants in Asia.
Those signing the letter, which includes Columbia Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club, called on Inslee to direct the state Department of Ecology to “reject the Kalama methanol refinery lead agencies’ inaccurate and incomplete environmental analyses.”
“We need Gov. Inslee to be an active advocate for thorough and sound environmental review of these projects at the Washington Department of Ecology and other relevant agencies,” said Stephanie Hillman, Campaign Representative with the Sierra Club and Co-Lead of the Power Past Fracked Gas Coalition.