Fighting fossil fuels

Stunning new fossil fuel proposals threaten the Columbia. The good news? We are fighting and winning!


The Columbia River has two futures.

The first: a superhighway for fossil fuel exports—oil tankers, refinery smoke stacks, flares, and piles of coal eight stories high—enriching multi-national corporations. The second: strong, healthy communities and thriving local businesses united by clean air, clean water, and sustainable salmon runs. The choice is ours.

Columbia Riverkeeper partnered with community groups, Tribal Nations, and local businesses to defeat over a dozen coal export, oil-by-rail, and fracked gas terminals and pipelines. Our momentum is strong, but big threats remain.

“From my perspective, they’re easily one of the most effective groups in the country. It’s hard to overstate their importance.”


Fracked gas

Fracked gas, also called “natural gas,” is 90 percent methane. Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Recent scientific studies show that the climate impact of fracked gas is nearly as bad as coal—or perhaps even worse. This is because methane leaks directly into the atmosphere during fracking and transportation. Today, the fracked gas industry plans a stunning increase in fracked gas infrastructure and consumption in Washington and Oregon. This includes fracked-gas-to-methanol refineries, new pipelines, and fracked-gas-fired power plants. Stopping the nation’s largest new methane users is an important step to fight climate change. Read about specific projects and our work to fight fracked gas in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more


Northwest Innovation Works proposed building two of the world’s largest fracked-gas-to-methanol refineries in Kalama, Wash.., and Port Westward, Ore.. 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. Communities came together and defeated the Kalama proposal in 2021. But Northwest Innovation Works has yet to abandon plans for an Oregon refinery. Learn more


Oil companies jumped on a truly dangerous idea: send crude-oil in trains along the Columbia River to West Coast shipping ports, where oil supertankers would sail through the estuary to the Pacific Ocean. What could go wrong? Tesoro planned to build the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver, Wash., to ship 360,000 barrels of explosive Bakken crude or tar sands oil each day. We celebrated a major victory in 2018 when Gov. Inslee rejected this climate-wrecking project. Meanwhile, Zenith Energy started shipping crude and tar sands oil in Portland, Ore. and Global Partners has its eye on restarting an oil-by-rail shipping terminal at Port Westward, Ore. Learn more

Coal export

Coal companies wanted to ship millions of tons of coal down the Columbia every day. They would strip mine Montana and Wyoming, ship coal on uncovered train cars, load it onto ocean-going vessels at Columbia River ports, and sail to Asia. We defeated every coal export proposal on the Columbia—including the nation’s largest coal export terminal, proposed in Longview, Wash. Learn more




Help us protect and restore the Columbia River.

Our Work

Legal advocacy and community organizing stop pollution, fight fossil fuels, save salmon, engage communities, and clean up Hanford.