It’s Official! Port Cancels Agreement with Methanol Refinery Developer!

It’s official! Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW) is done in the Pacific Northwest!

It’s Official: Columbia County Port Commission Terminates Methanol Refinery Agreement

It’s official: NWIW is done! 

On April 13, 2022, the Port of Columbia County Commission voted unanimously to terminate its lease option agreement with the backer of a major new fracked gas-to-methanol refinery, Northwest Innovation Works Port Westward LLC (NWIW). The Port Commission’s vote represents a major victory for our climate, clean water, and the communities in the Columbia River Estuary and Tacoma who opposed NWIW’s plans to develop refineries to export fracked gas-based methanol.

NWIW had quietly dissolved its Oregon company in 2021 after another of its refinery proposals failed in Kalama, WA, due to years of fierce opposition by local and regional advocates for clean water and climate action. Oddly, upon learning of the company’s dissolution, the Port stated that the lease option was “still in effect.” In response, over 600 Columbia Riverkeeper members and supporters joined a petition urging the Port to end its lease option agreement with NWIW, a non-existent company. On April 13, the Port Commission voted unanimously to terminate the NWIW lease option agreement, ending NWIW’s plans for the Columbia River Estuary once and for all.

Beginning in 2014, NWIW proposed three massive fracked gas-to-methanol refineries in the Pacific Northwest. Community opposition stopped each one, a clean sweep of rejection for projects that would have emitted huge quantities of climate-changing pollution each year. First in Tacoma in 2016, then in Kalama in 2021, and finally at Port Westward in 2022, the defeat of NWIW’s proposals marks a huge victory for tireless local advocates and a broad regional coalition opposed to new climate-wrecking fracked gas projects. 

The Fight to Protect Port Westward Continues

The fight to protect Port Westward from ill-conceived industrial projects continues, however, as local residents and their allies throughout the region stand firm against a new proposed industrial refinery and 400-car rail yard at Port Westward. Houston-based NEXT Energy proposes to build and operate a large renewable diesel refinery using large quantities of fracked gas and building a large new rail yard amid residences, sensitive farms, wetlands, and close to a Buddhist monastery. In April, Columbia Riverkeeper joined with a local farmer and 1000 Friends of Oregon to file a legal challenge against the new proposed 400-car rail yard proposed by NEXT.

You can help the community fight for Port Westward’s future by urging Oregon DEQ not to approve a pollution permit for NEXT’s proposed diesel refinery adjacent to where the methanol refinery would have been located at Port Westward.