Methanol

We are fighting to stop the world’s largest proposed fracked-gas-to-methanol refinery.

Fracked-gas-to-methanol refineries

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 a chemical used to make plastic or burned as a fuel. A single refinery could consume 320 million cubic feet of fracked gas per day, more than all other industrial uses in the State of Washington combined. Each refinery would emit more than 1 million tons of greenhouse gases from the smokestacks alone—and emit up to 7 million tons when “upstream” methane leakage is considered.  

Port of Kalama methanol refinery

Local opposition to the massive refinery, and the associated Kalama Lateral fracked gas pipeline, is strong. Over 19,000 public comments and petitions from residents throughout the region have been submitted to decisionmakers about the proposed Kalama methanol refinery. Despite community concern, Port of Kalama and Cowlitz County issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) permits for the refinery. Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity, represented by Earthjustice, appealed the Shorelines permits and the EIS. In September 2017, Washington’s Shorelines Hearings Board ruled that the Port of Kalama and Cowlitz County violated the law by failing to disclose and evaluate greenhouse gas emissions from the world’s largest methanol refinery. The Cowlitz County court agreed. Click here for detailed information about the Kalama methanol refinery, including factsheets and reports, our technical permit comments, and blog posts and press releases about the campaign.

Port Westward methanol refinery and rezone

Northwest Innovation Works signed a lease option with the Port of St. Helens to construct a methanol refinery at their Port Westward property near the town of Clatskanie, Oregon. The methanol refinery at Port Westward would mirror the Kalama proposal. The company has not filed permit applications yet. A likely roadblock for the proposal is the amount of available industrial land at Port Westward. Riverkeeper is working with farmers and Columbia County, OR, residents to fight a controversial effort to open over 800 acres of high-quality farmland at Port Westward for industrial development, including methanol and oil-by-rail terminals. We stopped the proposal before. Now we need your help to put this bad idea to bed forever. Learn more about Riverkeeper’s efforts to protect Port Westward.

Beyond Kalama and Port Westward:
methanol refineries mean more fracked gas and more pipelines

Riverkeeper is collaborating with local residents to oppose the world’s largest fracked-gas-to-methanol refineries proposed in Kalama, Washington, and Port Westward, Oregon. But Riverkeeper is also exposing how these massive methanol refinery proposals would increase our region’s consumption of fracked gas and drive construction of massive new gas pipelines into the Pacific Northwest.

Why is fracked gas such a big deal? It is mostly methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. The methane leaks from fracking wells and gas pipelines are so severe that scientists found that fracked gas can be as bad for our climate as coal. Thus far, the methanol company has not explained how the Northwest's limited gas pipeline system could supply the methanol refinery. Gas companies could propose a major new pipeline into the Northwest to supply the methanol refinery. 

Columbia Riverkeeper’s comments on permits:

More posts, press releases, and information about the campaign to protect the Columbia from the world’s largest methanol refinery: