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Methanol project is vital to county's future

Methanol project is vital to county's future

Last September, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Northwest Innovation Works’ proposed methanol plant at the Port of Kalama was released. The document is the culmination of nearly two years of work and review by independent experts.

The facts contained in the EIS are compelling. The plant will create nearly 200 permanent jobs, each with compensation of over $100,000 per year and will support another 500 jobs in our region through increased economic activity. During construction, the project will create up to 1,000 jobs, with over 90 percent filled by workers from our area.

The project will generate millions in new state and local taxes – providing support for police and fire protection, local schools, and infrastructure.

The analysis also demonstrates the company’s commitment to safety. The plant will be built to withstand a major earthquake, the company will fund an onsite fire department, and they will provide support to local first responders. The plant will also have redundant safety systems including constant monitoring and automatic shut-offs to prevent spills and fires.

Even better news is that we can realize these benefits while protecting our environment and reducing carbon emission globally.

The proposal meets or exceeds all state and federal laws for environmental protection and will use state of the art water treatment so that no wastewater will be released into the Columbia River. The ships to transport methanol from Kalama will be new, double-hulled tankers that incorporate the latest safety and environmental equipment.

But sadly, from offices in Oregon, Columbia Riverkeeper and other groups are working to kill this project. They have distorted the truth in their effort to deny our community this opportunity.

They complain about the use of natural gas, but just a few years ago some of these same groups said natural gas has an important role to play in our future when they worked to shut down Washington’s only coal-fired energy plant. Now they claim it’s bad?!

Today, 80 percent of the methanol produced in China is from coal. In a recent radio interview, Riverkeeper’s Portland based anti-methanol organizer said the project is, “not necessarily a wholesale better product than coal.”

By demonstrating that “coal-based methanol emits about 3.2 times as much CO2 as methanol made from natural gas,” a recent analysis by Chi-Jen Yang from Duke University’s Center on Global Climate Change underscores just how valuable it is to curtail the use of coal in the methanol manufacturing process.

By employing Ultra Low Emissions (ULE) technology at industrial scale for the first time anywhere, NW Innovation Works will reduce emissions significantly. And all of this has been documented in the EIS for over six months. But still the false claims continue.

At a recent community forum in Woodland, the opposition made a presentation that claimed, “Governor Inslee backtracks on support for methanol.” Due in large part to the economic and environmental benefits of the plant, not only has the governor publicly endorsed this project, but his administration helped to recruit the company to the state, and he and his office continue their support.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time opponents like Riverkeeper have used questionable tactics to further their agenda. Continued attempts to kill environmentally beneficial facilities like this tells others that they and their innovations are not welcome — turning away jobs like these is something we cannot afford.

As we consider the future of our county, and what type of economy we want to have, it’s important to ask tough questions. With NW Innovation Works’ proposed methanol plant, those questions have been asked— and answered. Please don’t let distortions and falsehoods stop our progress.

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