Washington Public Health and Environmental Groups Ask Legislature to Block Public Funding For Proposed Kalama Methanol Terminal
Today, April 6, 2017, a coalition of environmental and public health groups sent a letter (available here) asking Democratic leaders in the Washington House of Representatives to ensure that Washington transportation dollars cannot be used to build portions of the world’s largest methanol refinery and export terminal proposed in Kalama, Washington. The methanol facility is proposed by a company called Northwest Innovation Works LLC (NWIW), which is controlled by the Chinese government.
During the last session, the legislature asked Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and a stakeholder group (the Washington Freight Advisory Council) to come up with a prioritized list of freight projects for funding in 2017–19. See ESHB 2524, Sec. 218(4)(b).
WSDOT, the Washington Freight Advisory Committee, and the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board submitted a prioritized list of freight projects on October 31, 2016. The list includes two high-priority projects—a dock construction project and a road construction project—totaling about $12 million that are necessary for the methanol facility. See “2016PrioritizedFreightProjectList,” appendix a, p.1 (highlighted sections).
The House Transportation Committee approved a transportation budget that would fund these methanol construction projects, and other projects. Substitute House Bill 1147 directs almost $44 million to priority freight projects on WSDOT’s list. See SHB 1147, Section 307(10) (highlighted). The Senate Transportation Committee also passed a version of the budget that approves this funding. See SSB 5096, Section 311(7).
The House and Senate will now negotiate a new transportation budget, using SSB 5096 and SHB 1147 as starting points. This process is where House democrats can demand changes to the transportation budget to prevent public subsidies for methanol.