State has 30 Days to Stop World’s Largest Fracked Gas-to-Methanol Refinery
Washington Must Reject Massive Fossil Fuel Refinery: State has 30 Days to Stop World’s Largest Fracked Gas-to-Methanol Refinery
On September 11, 2019, Cowlitz County finished its review of the proposed methanol refinery in Kalama, Washington. Now, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has 30 days to approve or deny the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery (press release below).
In August, a broad coalition of organizations joined Kalama residents in denouncing the skewed, inaccurate environmental review. Ecology must now decide whether the methanol refinery meets Washington’s health, safety, and environmental standards. (Hint: it doesn’t.)
Urge Ecology to deny the Shorelines Permit for the Kalama methanol refinery.
“I am counting on Ecology to deny the Kalama methanol refinery. The project threatens Kalama, the Columbia, and the entire state because of its climate-changing pollution. The methanol company continues to make misleading claims about the refinery’s purpose and impacts. Ecology should reject the refinery, which would use more fracked gas than all of Washington’s other industries combined and produce millions of tons of greenhouse gas pollution every year!”
Ecology should deny the project because:
- The project will add a staggering 12 million tons of carbon pollution to the atmosphere per year. Buried deep on the last page of the last appendix of the Final Supplemental SEI, NWIW shows why it’s so desperate to deny the potential fuel use of methanol. Page 50 of Appendix B shows that burning the methanol for fuel could generate roughly 5 million tons of carbon pollution each year—an amount that completely undercuts NWIW’s claims about reducing greenhouse gas pollution. NWIW attempted to hide this fact by omitting this analysis from the text of the SEIS, itself. When added to the upstream pollution of gas fracked and the emissions from the methanol refinery itself, the overall carbon impact of the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery would be 12 million tons of carbon pollution per year.
- We have a choice: fracked gas or clean technology. Northwest Innovation Works’ (NWIW) refinery would operate for 40 years. That’s four decades of fracking, fossil fuel consumption, and climate-changing pollution.
- Governor Inslee opposes the project. As Governor Inslee said: “We don’t have the luxury of a 50-year transition phase. The impacts of climate change are already coming to bear and . . . unless we reduce emissions by half over the next decade, we will reach an irreversible tipping point.”
- NWIW’s plan to combat climate change is: extract and export more fossil fuel. Washington’s people and leaders know better. The company relies on its discredited, unsupported, and unenforceable theory that methanol from Kalama will “displace” methanol made from coal in China. Ecology should reject this false narrative.
- The company pretends its methanol won’t be burned for fuel—even though Riverkeeper caught NWIW telling potential investors the methanol could be used for fuel and Ecology said the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should address fuel use. NWIW deliberately misled state agencies; Ecology shouldn’t reward the company’s false claims with a permit.
- NWIW grossly underestimates the project’s methane pollution in the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), released in September 2019. Multiple studies show that fracking releases a much higher proportion of climate-wrecking methane gas into our atmosphere than the SEIS acknowledges. Ecology must step up to protect Washington’s clean energy and climate goals.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington State Climate Leaders Must Decide on World’s Largest Fracked Gas-to-Methanol Refinery
Coalition of community, public health, and environmental groups call on Washington Dept. of Ecology to deny proposal
September 12, 2019 (Kalama, WA)—Washington state regulators have 30 days to deny or approve the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery. Cowlitz County completed its review today, starting a 30-day clock for the Department of Ecology to decide the fate of the project. Governor Jay Inslee announced opposition to the project earlier this year based on the refinery’s significant climate impacts. Northwest Innovation Works’ proposal would consume a stunning amount of fracked gas—more than all other Washington industry combined—and would quickly become Washington’s largest greenhouse gas polluter. The refinery also faces significant opposition from local communities.
“Governor Inslee took a strong stand against this refinery, realizing it will undermine Washington’s clean energy goals. We are counting on Ecology to recognize the threat this project poses to our community and our climate, and to reject the permit,” said Kalama resident Linda Leonard.
“The State of Washington is being asked to sign off on this project based on a woefully inaccurate environmental impact statement,” said Cecile Gernez, Organizer with the Sierra Club Washington State Chapter. “We’re counting on the Department of Ecology to protect our communities by rejecting this dirty and dangerous proposal.”
“We urge Ecology to recognize the risk that the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery will pose to our climate, our community, and our state’s clean energy goals,” said Mark Uhart, a Kalama resident. “Northwest Innovation Works continues to dramatically understate the amount of greenhouse gases from the refinery and the fracked gas that it will use. Ecology should recognize these flaws and deny the proposal.”
“Ecology has a clear choice: protect our climate and the Columbia River, or authorize a climate-wrecking fracked gas-to-methanol refinery,” said Dan Serres, Conservation Director for Columbia Riverkeeper. “From day one, the company misled the public and regulators about the methanol refinery’s purpose and impact. Ecology should reject the company’s deceptions and deny this project.”
To date, members of the Power Past Fracked Gas Coalition have submitted nearly 150,000 comments and statements opposing fracked gas proposals in Washington, including Kalama Methanol and Tacoma LNG.
About the project:
A subsidiary of the Chinese Academy of Sciences called Northwest Innovation Works proposes building two of the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refineries in Kalama, Washington, and Port Westward, Oregon. Methanol is used to make plastic or burned as fuel. A single refinery could consume 320 million cubic feet of fracked gas per day, more than all other industrial uses in Washington combined. The refinery would emit more than 1 million tons of greenhouse gases each year from the smokestacks alone—and emit up to 7 million tons when “upstream” methane leakage is considered, and an additional 5 million tons if the methanol is burned as a fuel.
- Letter Cowlitz County Completion of Review to Ecology Re: FSEIS; September 11, 2019
- Press Release: Environmental Review Ignores Climate Impact of Proposed Kalama Methanol Refinery; August 30, 2019
- SEPA Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, August 2019
Tell Ecology to say “No!” to a proposal for the world’s largest fracked-gas-to-methanol refinery in Kalama, WA.