We are fighting to stop the world’s largest proposed fracked-gas-to-methanol refinery.
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.
Fact sheets and resources to learn more about methanol:
- What Consumes More Gas Than All Cascadia's Cities Combined? Sightline Institute, July 2, 2018
- How Northwest Methanol Is Likely Intended for China’s Gas Tanks, Sightline Institute, Feb. 14, 2018
- Riverkeeper’s Appeal of the Shoreline Permits and Environmental Impact Statement, June 29, 2017
- Where are our climate champions on methanol?
- Natural Gas 101, February 22, 2017
- Kalama’s Methanol Refinery, by the numbers: counting water use, air pollution, gas demands and other impacts, Sightline Institute
- Methanol Refining and Export on the Columbia: What You Need to Know, Columbia Riverkeeper
- Washington State Bets Retirement Funds on Methanol Refinery, Sightline Institute
- Why China Wants Methanol From the Northwest, Sightline Institute
- What Methanol Means for the Northwest, Sightline Institute
Columbia Riverkeeper’s comments on permits:
- Columbia Riverkeeper Comments on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Northwest Innovation Works’ Methanol Refinery and Export Terminal, December 28, 2018.
- Columbia Riverkeeper Comments on the Air Pollution Permit for the Kalama Methanol Refinery, February 6, 2017
- Columbia Riverkeeper Comments on the Shoreline Permit for the Kalama Methanol Refinery, August 31, 2016
- Groups Challenge Environmental Review of Kalama Methanol Refinery, October 20, 2016 (Kalama, WA)
- Comments to Corps: Final EIS for the Kalama Methanol Manufacturing and Marine Export Facility and the Kalama Lateral Project Should Address New Regional Gas Pipelines, September 12, 2016
- Comments to Cowlitz County: The NEPA Analysis for NWP-2014-177/2 (Kalama Manufacturing and Marine Export Facility) and NWP-2015-111 (Kalama Lateral Project) Should Analyze Regional Gas Supply Pipeline Construction, September 12, 2016
- EFSEC declines to review Kalama Methanol Refinery, September 21, 2016
- Comments on Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Applications by Port of Kalama and Northwest Pipeline LLC for the Kalama Manufacturing and Marine Export Facility and the Kalama Lateral Pipeline Project, August 25, 2016
- Comments on DEIS re: NWIW Kalama Methanol, April 18, 2016
- Northwest Innovation Works’ environmental review website
- Columbia Riverkeeper and NEDC’s Scoping comments on the Kalama methanol proposal
More posts, press releases, and information about the campaign to protect the Columbia from the world’s largest methanol refinery:
- Sixteen Environmental, Public-Health Organizations Oppose Greenwashing of Fracked Gas-To-Methanol Refinery, December 28, 2018.
- Kalama Methanol Hearing Draws Strong Opposition to Fracked Gas, December 13, 2018.
- Methanol Company Downplays Climate Impact of Refinery, Press Release, November 13, 2018.
- Taxpayers May Soon Be on the Hook for a $2 Billion Fracked Gas Refinery, Pacific Standard Magazine, November 7, 2018.
- Kalama Methanol Refinery on the Public Dole, KBOO Radio, October 15, 2018.
- Picnic Along the Pipeline, event, September 20, 2018.
- FOIA Lawsuit: U.S. Department of Energy Withholding Info About Financial Aid for Proposed Methanol Refinery, Press Release, August 22, 2018.
- Monthly “No Methanol” activist meeting, September 11, 2018.
- How We Fight to Protect the Columbia River From Fossil Fuel Pollution–and Win, EcoWatch, August 24, 2018.
- Kalama refinery project elicits lawsuit from Columbia Riverkeeper, DJC, August 23, 2018.
- Riverkeeper sues feds over Kalama methanol plant application, The Daily News, August 24, 2018.
- Columbia Riverkeeper sues Department of Energy for withholding information about financial aid for a proposed petrochemical plant, August 22, 2018.
- Muralist Audie Fuller collaborated with Kalama, Washington residents to create a stunning piece of art opposing the dirty Kalama methanol refinery and pipeline proposal, August 13, 2018.
- Why Does Climate Change Matter to the Columbia?, Newsletter 2018, Issue 2
- How We Fight to Protect the Columbia from Fossil Fuel Pollution–and WIN, Newsletter 2018, Issue 2.
- Cowlitz County Superior Court Affirms: Port Broke Law By Ignoring Greenhouse Gas Pollution, May 8, 2018.
- Stop the Fracked Gas Takeover, January 30, 2018.
- Setting Precedent: Another big victory, Newsletter 2017, Issue 3.
- Fracked Gas-to-Methanol Refinery Permit Invalid, September 2017.
- Conservation Groups Challenge World’s Largest Methanol Refinery Planned for Columbia River, June 29, 2017.
- Enviro groups appeal state permits for $1.8B methanol plant in Kalama, Seattle Times, June 29, 2017
- State faces dual challenges from port, methanol opponents, The Daily News, June 29, 2017.
- Climate Activists in Pacific Northwest Fight Construction of World’s Largest Methanol Refinery, TruthOut, June 8, 2017.
- People’s Climate March – Columbia River: Residents of Longview, Vancouver, Kalama, Washington, are pushing back against the dirty fossil fuel industry and protecting their community and our climate. You’re invited to join them on April 29th in Kalama, Washington.
- Explained: Climate Impacts from the World’s Largest Methanol Refinery, April 18, 2017.
- Coalition of State and Regional Groups Oppose Methanol, April 6, 2017.
- No Methanol Rally in Olympia, February 16, 2017.
- Diverse Group Stands up Against the Kalama Methanol Refinery, February 7, 2017.
- Comment on Last Minute changes to the Kalama methanol refinery, February 3, 2017.
- Pipeline Fighters, December 22, 2016.
- Act now to protect the Columbia from the world’s largest methanol refinery, November 22, 2016.
- Groups Challenge the Environmental Review of the Kalama methanol refinery, October 22, 2016.
- Methanol refinery drives regional pipeline construction, September 26, 2016.
- EFSEC declines to review the Kalama methanol refinery, September 22, 2016.
- Riverkeeper seeks statewide review of the Kalama methanol refinery, June 24, 2016.
- Documentary and Discussion with Josh Fox, May 19, 2016.
- Cemetery District Challenges Gas Pipeline Approval for Methanol Export, May 11, 2016.
- Methanol Comment Period Wraps for Plant in Kalama, April 18, 2016.
- Fighting methanol in Kalama, March 28, 2016.
- Proposed Methanol Plants in Region Face Fierce Opposition, Seattle Times, March 6, 2016.