Widespread Opposition: Kalama Methanol

Thousands Urge Washington to Reject Climate-Wrecking Methanol Refinery in Kalama

For Immediate Release

[Lacey, WA] -- Today, a broad coalition of over 30 community organizations representing tens of thousands of people from across the Northwest urged the Washington Department of Ecology and Governor Jay Inslee to deny the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery, proposed in Kalama, Washington. Over the past 40 days, thousands of commenters urged denial of the massive refinery, which would use up to 320 million cubic feet of fracked gas per day, more than all of Washington’s gas-fired power plants combined. At least 6,000 comments were submitted in opposition to the project.

Altogether, Ecology concluded the methanol refinery would cause 4.6 million tons of climate pollution every year for 40 years—making it one of Washington’s largest sources of climate pollution.

“In thousands of written comments, and in over 11 hours of public testimony, people in Kalama and across the Northwest urged Ecology to protect our climate and our community from this destructive, polluting refinery proposal,” said Sally Keely, a math professor and a resident of Kalama.

“This project will generate millions of tons of pollution each year, a level of pollution that is stunningly out of step with Washington’s goals for reducing greenhouse gases that are driving the climate crisis,” said Dan Serres, Conservation Director with Columbia Riverkeeper. “If Washington locks Kalama into forty years of fossil fuel-driven methanol production and pollution, we will have failed to address the climate crisis. Governor Inslee and Ecology need to step up and protect Washington’s future, now.”

"In the middle of a climate emergency, building the world's largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery is the last thing we need," said Sept Gernez, Organizer with the Sierra Club Washington State Chapter, a member of the Power Past Fracked Gas Coalition. "Thousands of Washington residents have spoken out against this project because it would be disastrous for our communities and our climate. It's time to reject it once and for all."

“It would be reckless and irresponsible to build new massively polluting facilities based on speculation and flawed science,” said Alyssa Macy, CEO of Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. “Thousands of Washingtonians are speaking up against this dangerous project because we know that we simply cannot build a clean energy future by investing in dirty energy.”

“This refinery will be fed by fracked gas that is toxic from source to delivery. I have seen the effects of methanol exposure on people.” said Dr. Annemarie Dooley, a Kidney Doctor and member of the climate and health task force at Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. “They include blindness, vomiting, and unless I clean the blood with a dialysis machine, death. But somehow we are to believe that carbon intense methanol refining here is clean because it allegedly reduces future coal use in China? This sounds like the same sort of flimflammery that came from Volkswagen when they promoted low emission diesel engines. It was all an illusion.” 

Ecology will release a final environmental review later this Fall and will likely make a decision to reject or approve a key permit for the proposed refinery by late 2020. The public comment period for the Kalama supplemental EIS officially ends at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, October 9.

  • The fracked gas industry wants to build the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery in Kalama, WA. The proposed refinery would consume a staggering amount of fracked gas, more than all of Washington’s gas-fired power plants combined. The project would convert the fracked gas to methanol, which would be shipped overseas to be burned as fuel or used as feedstock to make plastics. Ecology is releasing a new draft SEIS that evaluates the greenhouse gas pollution of Northwest Innovation Works’ (NWIW) proposed refinery and pipeline.
  • The climate consequences of the Kalama methanol refinery are enormous. Ecology’s draft study explains that the refinery would cause a staggarting 4.6 million tons of climate pollution every year for forty years. Reports from the Stockholm Environment Institute and Sightline Institute also show that the Kalama methanol refinery would contribute to a significant global increase in greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions would undercut Washington’s efforts to move towards a clean energy economy. 
  • Governor Inslee publicly opposes the Kalama methanol refinery, explaining: “The accelerating threat of climate change and the emerging science on the damaging impacts of natural gas production and distribution mean we must focus our full efforts on developing clean, renewable and fossil-fuel free energy sources.”
  • The Kalama project will drive fracking and methane pollution. Because of its enormous demand for fracked gas, NWIW’s proposed methanol refinery in Kalama would be responsible for increased fracking and the methane pollution that fracking causes. Because methane escapes during the fracking process, this “upstream” pollution will exceed one million tons of greenhouse gas pollution each year, using even the most conservative estimates of methane leakage.]
  • Combustion of methanol from the Kalama project will lead to a large “downstream” source of greenhouse gas pollution. Although NWIW tried for years to claim that no one would ever burn the methanol produced in Kalama, Ecology’s draft study shows that the Kalama methanol refinery would lead to more methanol being burned as fuel in China.