Methanol

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

Fracked-gas-to-methanol refineries

A company called Northwest Innovation Works proposes building two of the world’s largest fracked-gas-to-methanol refineries in Kalama, WA, and Port Westward, OR. 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 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 accounting for “upstream” methane leakage and “downstream” combustion of the methanol.

Kalama methanol refinery

Local and regional opposition to the massive Kalama, WA, methanol refinery, and the associated Kalama Lateral fracked gas pipeline, remains strong. Residents throughout the region have submitted over 25,000 public comments and petitions about the proposed methanol refinery to government officials. In a major blow to the proposal, in May 2019 Governor Inslee announced he “cannot in good conscience support” the refinery due to its climate impacts. The refinery remains unconscionable in 2020, as the climate crisis deepens and the refinery’s backers continue to push for this carbon bomb in Washington.

What's next?

In September 2020, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) released a new Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to address the climate impacts of the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery, proposed in Kalama, WA. 

Ecology’s new analysis reveals what the project’s backers have long denied: that the refinery would cause more methanol to be burned as fuel overseas and result in significant methane pollution from fracking. The methanol refinery would quickly become one of Washington’s most significant sources of climate-changing pollution and use more fracked gas than all of Washington’s gas-fired power plants, combined. The Sightline Institute writes that the project would be a “climate disaster.” Unfortunately, Ecology’s study also relies on speculative mitigation and an unenforceable market analysis to paper over the impacts of this dirty, climate-wrecking proposal.

You can learn more about how to weigh in on the Supplemental EIS here.

On November 12, 2019, Columbia Riverkeeper and allies filed a federal lawsuit because the Trump administration’s agencies violated the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act when reviewing the methanol refinery’s impacts on the Columbia River and the climate. Riverkeeper’s attorneys, and our outside counsel at Earthjustice, plan to hold the Trump administration accountable and protect the Columbia from fracked gas development. If successful, the lawsuit would deny federal permits and subsidies to the Kalama methanol refinery. 

 

TAKE ACTION: Protect Our Climate

Support Ecology’s Decision to Develop a New Environmental Study for Kalama Methanol

 
Climate Youth Activists Speak Out Against Kalama Methanol:

Dylan Haviv, age 10:

Cambria Keely, age 17:

Caroline Ceravolo, age 15:

 

Updates:

Letter to the SEC
OPB
February 12, 2020

"Columbia Riverkeeper Wants SEC To Investigate Kalama Methanol Project"

Crosscut
Crosscut
November 13, 2019

"A small Washington town may build the world's largest methanol plant, but do locals want it?"

AP News methanol article
AP News
November 12, 2019

"Lawsuit aims to kill stalled $2B methanol refinery project"

Thin Green Line Series KBOO
Holding the Thin Green Line
Fall 2019

"The World’s Largest Methanol Refinery & Part Two: A View from the Blast Zone"

Kalama methanol aerial
DeSmog
October 5, 2019

"Washington Petrochemical Plant Subsidies Would Violate Federal ‘Double Dipping’ Rules"

No Methanol Activists in Olympia, WA
Portland Business Journal
September 13, 2019

"Controversial Kalama methanol plant gets county OK"

“No Methanol Land and Water Action Community Camp-Out” May 18, 2019, photo by Dan Serres.
Seattle Times
June 3, 2019

"State lawmaker touts Kalama methanol plant — and works for company that’s trying to get it built"

opb-news-20190419
OPB News
April 19, 2019

"Controversial Kalama Methanol Plant May Be Misleading Public, Regulators"

PS Magazine photo at Port of Kalama
Pacific Standard Magazine
November 7, 2018

"Taxpayers May Soon Be On The Hook For A $2 Billion Fracked Gas Refinery"

Watch this video "Protect the Columbia from the world's largest methanol refinery":

Port Westward, OR, methanol refinery and rezone

Northwest Innovation Works signed a lease option with the Port of Columbia County, OR, to build a methanol refinery at the Port Westward property near the town of Clatskanie. The methanol refinery at Port Westward would mirror the Kalama proposal. The company has not filed permit applications. 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 near 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, WA, and Port Westward, OR. 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. Fracked gas fuels climate change and stands in the way of clean energy. Thus far, the methanol company has not explained how the Northwest's limited gas pipeline system could supply the methanol refineries. Gas companies could propose a major new pipeline into the Northwest to supply the methanol refineries. 

Columbia Riverkeeper’s comments on permits:

Blog posts, press releases, and information: