Washington Legislature writes Kalama methanol a check — will Governor Inslee sign it?
On April 21, 2017, the Washington legislature approved a transportation budget that could put state funds towards building portions of the world’s largest methanol refinery and export terminal. See ESB 5096, Section 311(5). Northwest Innovation Works LLC, a corporation controlled by the Chinese government, wants to build the natural gas-to-methanol refinery along the Columbia River at the Port of Kalama. Governor Inslee and the Washington Department of Transportation can nix the proposed subsidy.
“We are calling on Governor Inslee and the Washington Department of Transportation to redirect state funding to projects that benefit all Washingtonians,” explains Columbia Riverkeeper’s Senior Organizer, Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, who works closely with residents in Kalama and Cowlitz County to protect the Columbia and river communities from the methanol refinery’s air pollution and climate impacts. “The world’s largest methanol refinery would severely undermine Washington’s commitment to combat climate change and restore endangered Columbia River salmon.”
“How many red carpets will our state roll out for a methanol refinery that would destroy the place I live? The project is an abuse of public transportation funding and an abuse of eminent domain,” said Tina Linnell, a landowner impacted by the methanol refinery’s proposed natural gas supply pipeline.
“If approved, this project alone would consume more natural gas than any sector in Washington State’s economy, opening the floodgates for fracked gas consumption across Western Washington,” explained Millie Magner, Chair of the Sierra Club Beyond Fossil Fuels Taskforce in Seattle. “Approval of this subsidy would greatly undermine Governor Inslee’s commitment to act on climate change.”
The transportation budget allocates money to a list of projects created by the Washington Department of Transportation and stakeholders. That list contains a road construction project and a dock construction project — totaling about $12 million — that are necessary for the methanol facility. See “2016PrioritizedFreightProjectList,” appendix a, p.1 (highlighted sections).
The transportation budget now goes to Governor Inslee. If the Governor signs the bill, the Washington Department of Transportation has the final say about which projects on the list receive state funds.