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 proposed building two of the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refineries in Kalama, Wash., and Port Westward, Ore. Not so fast. 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
Communities came together and defeated a massive fossil fuel export terminal! In 2021, state and federal regulators denied key permits for Northwest Innovation Works—the culmination of seven years of grassroots community organizing and legal advocacy. The project would have emitted a stunning 5 million tons of greenhouse gas annually to ship a petrochemical overseas to make plastics or burn as a dirty fuel. Residents throughout the region submitted over 25,000 public comments and petitions about the proposed methanol refinery to government officials. Here’s a snapshot of the road to victory:
- After initially supporting the refinery, in May 2019, Governor Inslee announced that he “cannot in good conscience support” the methanol refinery due the pressing need to stop constructing fossil fuel infrastructure in order to combat the climate crisis.
- In November 2020, a court dealt another blow to the refinery by tossing out federal permits and environmental review documents.
- In January 2021, the Wash. Dept. of Ecology denied a key Shoreline Management Act permit for the Kalama methanol refinery, citing the refinery’s significant harm to our climate and the Columbia River.
Without the necessary state and federal permits, this climate-wrecking proposal no longer threatens our climate or the Columbia.
Port Westward, Ore., Methanol Refinery and Rezone
Northwest Innovation Works signed a lease option with the Port of Columbia County, Ore., 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 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. But it gets worse. 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. So 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.
Amidst strong opposition and legal defeats, developers end pursuit of world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery.
Kalama Music Video: Kalama Speaks Up:
Climate Youth Activists Speak Out Against Kalama Methanol:
Dylan Haviv, age 10:
Cambria Keely, age 17:
Caroline Ceravolo, age 15:
"Washington state Ecology Department rejects permit for Kalama methanol plant on Columbia River"
"A small Washington town may build the world's largest methanol plant, but do locals want it?"
"The World’s Largest Methanol Refinery & Part Two: A View from the Blast Zone"
"Washington Petrochemical Plant Subsidies Would Violate Federal ‘Double Dipping’ Rules"
"State lawmaker touts Kalama methanol plant — and works for company that’s trying to get it built"
Watch this video "Protect the Columbia from the world's largest methanol refinery":
Fact sheets and resources:
- Federal Court Order Vacating Army Corps Permits for Kalama Methanol Refinery, November 13, 2020
- Port of Kalama and NWIW First Amendment to Dock Usage Agreement
- NWIW - Kalama Voluntary Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program, May 28, 2019
- Watch our new video by Power Past Fracked Gas & share it, February 28, 2019
- Fracked Fuel & Petrochemical Projects in the Pacific Northwest, The Sightline Institute, February 12, 2019
- 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:
- Comments on the Draft Second Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Northwest Innovation Works’ Kalama Methanol Refinery and Export Terminal. October 8, 2020
- Columbia Riverkeeper Comments on Northwest Pipeline LLC’s Request for Extension of Time for the Kalama Lateral Project, CP15-8, March 31, 2020
- Columbia Riverkeeper Pre-Scoping Comments on Ecology’s Second Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Kalama Methanol Refinery and Export Terminal, February 13, 2020
- Columbia Riverkeeper Comments on Potential Securities Violations by NWIW, February 11, 2020
- Columbia Riverkeeper Comments on NWIW Proposed GHG Mitigation Proposal, July 30, 2019
- Columbia Riverkeeper Comments on NWIW Dock Use Agreement with Port of Kalama, July 30, 2019
- 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
Blog posts, press releases, and information:
- Methanol: The Last Round? February 9, 2021
- The Small but Mighty Team Behind the Kalama Methanol Victory, January 21, 2021
- Washington Denies Kalama Fracked Gas-to-Methanol Refinery, January 21, 2021
- Environmental leaders urge Gov. Inslee to reject permits for methanol plan, January 14, 2021
- Kalama methanol refinery would cause significant climate pollution, government study says, December 20, 2020
- Army Corps Must Prepare Full, Transparent Environmental Review, November 24, 2020
- Join us in urging Washington to reject a climate-wrecking project on the shores of the Columbia River, November 17, 2020
- The Washington Dept. of Ecology (Ecology) Asked—and You Answered!, October 19, 2020
- Columbia Riverkeeper Partnered with Over 30 Organizations to Deliver a Powerful Argument Against the Kalama Methanol Refinery, October 15, 2020
- Thousands Urge Washington to Reject Climate-Wrecking Methanol Refinery in Kalama, October 8, 2020
- Community Members Urge Washington to Reject Kalama Methanol Refinery In Virtual Hearing, September 18, 2020
- It’s Here! New Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Kalama Methanol Refinery, September 2, 2020
- A Lasting Legacy: Chris Turner set a high bar for what a dedicated, passionate citizen activist can accomplish, July 12, 2020
- Watchdog Groups Call Out “NW Fracked” For Continued Involvement in Trail West Fracked Gas Pipeline Plan, June 3, 2020
- Tell Ecology to Stand Firm: Fully Evaluate the World’s Largest Fracked Gas-to-Methanol Refinery Proposed in Kalama, WA, March 27, 2020
- Tell FERC: End Eminent Domain for Fracked Gas-to-Methanol Pipeline, March 20, 2020
- BREAKING: Hold Methanol-backers Accountable, February 12, 2020
- Washington Requires New Environmental Study for World’s Largest Proposed Fracked Gas-to-Methanol Refinery, November 22, 2019
- Kalama Methanol Refinery Faces New Federal Court Challenge, November 12, 2019
- Cowlitz County responded to the Washington Department of Ecology's request for information on NWIW proposed methanol refinery in Kalama, November 4, 2019
- Holding the Thin Green Line, Radio Documentary Series, KBOO Radio, October 17, 2019.
- Holding the Thin Green Line, Radio Documentary Series, "Holding the Thin Green Line", October 17, 2019.
- Meet the No Methanol Monday Crew from Kalama, WA, October 15, 2019.
- Ecology Finds Methanol Refinery Review Incomplete, Seeks Information on Spurious Carbon Claims, October 9, 2019.
- Climate Youth Activists Speak Out Against Kalama Methanol, October 4, 2019.
- Washington Must Reject Massive Fossil Fuel Refinery: State has 30 Days to Stop World’s Largest Fracked Gas-to-Methanol Refinery, September 12, 2019.
- Kalama methanol update: 194-page report dodges greenhouse gas impacts, August 30, 2019.
- Greenwashing fossil fuel export? We won’t stand for it, July 31, 2019.
- Breaking news: Seattle Times Report on Kalama Methanol, June 3, 2019.
- Court Decision Effectively Halts Plans for Proposed Methanol Refinery, Industrial Expansion at Columbia River Port, May 22, 2019.
- Activists Rally along Columbia River to Protest Fracked Gas-to-Methanol Refinery in Kalama, WA, May 19, 2019.
- Bombshell Report: Methanol Developer Lied About Purpose of Project, April 19, 2019.
- Controversial Kalama Methanol Plant May Be Misleading Public, Regulators, OPB News, April 19, 2019.
- Power Past Fracked Gas Updates, April 15, 2019.
- Watch our new video by Power Past Fracked Gas & share it! February 28, 2019.
- Power Past Fracked Gas Rally, KIRO Seattle, February 22, 2019.
- “Keep It In The Ground” Movement Getting Fossil Fuel Industry’s Attention, February 17, 2019.
- 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.