NWIW Appeals Permit Denial

Methanol: The Last Round?

Thousands of people demanded an honest investigation of how Northwest Innovation Works’ proposed fracked gas-to-methanol refinery would impact our climate. Gov. Inslee and the Wash. Dept. of Ecology listened. They stood up to political pressure from the fossil fuel industry and denied a critical permit for the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery in Kalama, WA. Here’s how you can show your appreciation for their leadership. 

Instead of accepting this denial, Northwest Innovation Works and the Port of Kalama announced that they will appeal Washington’s sound decision.

Disappointing? Yes, maddening. But we won’t sit idly by. Columbia Riverkeeper and our allies, represented by Earthjustice, will help defend Washington’s decision in court. 

Can you donate today to support the Stop Dirty Fossil Fuels Legal Fund

It’s been a long campaign, but this appeal will hopefully be the last round. Thank you to everyone who has worked to protect the Columbia River from the Kalama methanol refinery.

A trial before the Shorelines Hearings Board will likely occur in summer 2021. Any ruling by the Board can be appealed to Washington state courts. 

Donate now to the Stop Dirty Fossil Fuels Legal Fund and power the legal work needed to protect our climate and the Columbia. 


Washington’s Denial of Methanol Refinery Appealed 

Coalition of Conservation Groups to Oppose the Appeal

February 9, 2021 (Kalama, WA)—The Washington Department of Ecology’s (Ecology) permit denial for the world’s largest proposed fracked gas-to-methanol refinery will be appealed by Northwest Innovation Works and the Port of Kalama.    

In denying the permit, Ecology’s Director Laura Watson explained that the Kalama methanol refinery “would increase greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 5 million tons annually [and] would not benefit the environment.”

Conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, will oppose the methanol company’s appeal and defend Ecology’s decision before the Washington Shorelines Hearings Board. 

"We look forward to helping to defend Ecology’s sound decision. Our climate and our health cannot afford another giant fossil fuel refinery,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper.

“NWIW and other corporate polluters aren’t taking the hint: our coalition will defend our right to clean air, clean water, and a sustainable environment until our last collective breath,” said Alyssa Macy, CEO of Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. “As Ecology made clear, this fracked gas proposal would harm the health of Washingtonians and exacerbate the climate crisis. Corporate attempts to pollute for profit will not be tolerated.” 

“Ecology made the right decision, and we will continue to protect the health and safety of our communities, our water, and our climate,” said Stephanie Hillman, Northwest Campaign Representative for Sierra Club and Co-Director of the Power Past Fracked Gas Coalition. “In the middle of a climate emergency, when we should be focused on moving toward a future free of fossil fuels, building the world's largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery makes no sense.” 

“Ecology did the right thing for the people and wildlife of Washington by denying the permit needed to build the Kalama refinery,” said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If built, the facility would be the top polluter in Washington state. We hope this appeal will be rejected and put the final nail in the coffin of this ill-conceived proposal.”

“The Kalama facility would have caused irreparable harm to the health of communities in Washington already suffering the most from fossil fuel related activities” said Dr. Mark Vossler, MD, President of WPSR board of directors. “Ecology made the right decision to not only protect people and the environment, but also to save on significant long-term healthcare costs.” 

"Ecology made the right call,” said Kristen Boyles, Earthjustice Staff Attorney. "We’ll stand with Ecology to defend the clean energy future we all are working so hard to achieve.”

A trial before the Shorelines Hearings Board will likely occur in summer 2021. Any ruling by the Board can be appealed to Washington state courts. 

The methanol export terminal also lacks necessary federal permits. A federal court recently invalidated those permits and ordered a full federal Environmental Impact Statement on the project. The Port of Kalama has also appealed that court decision.



Northwest Innovation Works seeks to build methanol refineries at Kalama, Washington, and Port Westward, Oregon, to take advantage of the region’s cheap fracked gas (methane), electricity, and water. The refineries would convert stunning volumes of fracked gas into methanol for export to China, to make plastics or fuel China’s growing fleet of automobiles. Each methanol refinery could consume 270 million cubic feet of fracked gas per day, more than all other industries in Washington combined. Methane, collected by fracking, is a potent greenhouse gas. New studies show that fracking for methane gas is a major threat to our climate because methane escapes into the atmosphere from gas wells and pipelines.