The world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery threatens the Columbia River and the community of Kalama, Washington. The facility would lock the Pacific Northwest into decades of using dirty fracked gas at a time when we need to transition to clean energy.
The good news: You can protect our climate and the Columbia. A critical public comment period is open now on the supplemental environmental review of the Kalama fracked gas-to-methanol refinery.
Underestimates both the the amount and the potency of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, that would be associated with the Kalama facility due to increased fracking. The company ignores or downplays multiple comprehensive studies finding a significantly higher methane-leakage rate than the report relies on and, in turn, underestimates the climate impacts of extracting and
transporting the gas that will be processed at the facility. The report also relies on outdated metrics that underestimate the climate-disrupting impact of methane.
Fails to properly evaluate the climate impacts of fracking if the company relies on fracked gas from the U.S. rather than Canada in the future. The report primarily assumes that Northwest Innovation Works will purchase gas from British Columbia for the lifetime of the project, ignoring shifting gas markets and plans for more gas pipelines from the Intermountain West to serve Pacific Northwest markets. Furthermore, the report underestimates the amount and greenhouse gas potency of U.S. gas.
Relies on highly speculative assumptions about global methanol markets and China’s use of coal-based methanol production. The report relies on a series of questionable assumptions about global methanol markets, energy commodity prices, Chinese government policy, and U.S.-China trade relations to conclude the project results in a net climate benefit.
Does not properly account for the greenhouse gas impacts of methanol as a fuel source, a probable use of the methanol produced in Kalama. An April 2017 China Daily article quotes We Lebin, the chairman of the Kalama project’s parent company, saying that the plant’s output could “replace diesel, coal and gas with methanol to power vehicles.” Lebin doubled down on the claims in a December 2017 Reuters article, saying that, “[the company] also wants to drive use of methanol as a transportation fuel for cars and ships.” Yet the report does not analyze the greenhouse gas impacts of using the facility’s methanol as fuel in comparison to non-fossil alternatives such as electric vehicles.
Public Comment on Kalama Methanol Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
Dear Governor Inslee
CC: Port of Kalama and Washington Department of Ecology,
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Governor Inslee, Port of Kalama, and Washington Department of Ecology:
Building the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery in Kalama, Washington, is the wrong direction for our safety, river, and climate. This facility undercuts Washington’s commitment to take meaningful and necessary action on climate change.
The draft supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) grossly misrepresents and underestimates the staggering climate pollution from Northwest Innovation Works’ proposed petrochemical refinery.
- The SEIS underestimates the amount and potency of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, associated with the Kalama facility due to increased fracking. By ignoring or downplaying credible studies on methane leakage and relying on outdated numbers, the SEIS presents an inaccurate picture of climate pollution associated with the project.
- The SEIS makes unrealistic assumptions about where the fracked gas will coming from and how much will leak. The report relies on a single study of methane leakage from a single fracking area in British Columbia—even though that study is suspect and Northwest Innovation Works will probably not buy fracked gas from this source for the 40-year lifetime of the project.
- Without compelling evidence, the SEIS assumes that this project will displace China’s use of coal-based technology to make olefins (the company’s stated end-use of methanol).
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On Tuesday 23rd October, the Oregon DEQ held a public hearing that was a rare opportunity for Oregonians to comment on changes the EPA is proposing to standards for national automobile fuelefficiency and greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Three folks from 350PDX testified against these changes (see their comments below), and until the following dates you can submit comments too!
The Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Proposed Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 (website here) – Comment Due 26th October 2018
Or take inspiration from the wonderful testifies below.
“Give the EPA a piece of your mind ASAP!
That’s what I did Tuesday night at a public hearing on EPA rollbacks of vehicle and coal plant emissions standards. I was nervous to get up and speak, but after listening to 10 year girl say “It’s scary thinking when I grow up it won’t be safe anymore,” that was it for me. So, I just told it like it is: the EPA’s new rules will increase greenhouse gas emissions, which will exacerbate climate change and harm our health and environment. As you can imagine, the EPA doesn’t want to hear what people think about their proposed rules, and that’s exactly why you should speak up. You still have a tiny window of time to give them the what for. How to comment? Go to the bottom of this document from Neighbors for Clean Air for helpful talking points and the links to submit comments about vehicle emissions rules (SAFE) byOctober 26 and comments about the coal plant standards rule by October 31.”
“I went to speak out against the EPA’s proposal to keep fuel emission standards the same over the next 8 years because I can hardly concentrate on the joy of my daughter’s existence while in the back of my mind knowing that by the time she is a teenager, the planet will be destroyed, and not in a discrete, limited way like a forest cut down or a species wiped out, but in a severe and widespread way. She will not be thinking about a career and college, she will be thinking, “Where can I live that is not deadly?” As early as 2030, intense storms, drought, smoke, and deadly heat will ravage the planet year after year for centuries to come. I found this information in the IPCC report’s Summary for Policymakers and Frequently Asked Questions documents. The IPCC report finds that there are very few to no strategies available to keep climate change in a livable zone if we do not cut our carbon emissions in half by 2030 and take them down to zero by 2050. Transportation contributes to ⅓ of the US’s carbon output. The EPA’s fuel emission proposal creates more carbon than any of the proposals considered, increasing fuel efficiency by 0.0 percent (that is to say, no improvement at all). It is wholesale murder, that’s what it is. In light of the IPCC report, proceeding with the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions proposals is suicide on a planetary scale.
When I attended the public comment session, I was furthermore horrified to learn that the EPA plans to remove state’s rights to set their own higher emission standards, as has been done in California. This would mean that states would be powerless to cut carbon emissions from transportation and power plants. With the federal government doing all it can to hasten the demise of our livable climate, state legislation has been our great hope. Do your own reading. Write your own letter. This is about the survival of the human race.
Time is running out. We have 12 years left to transition to renewable energy. Public comments are due by October 26th.”
“My name is Anais Tuepker, I am the Interim Co-Executive Director of 350PDX as well as a public health researcher, and I am appalled that, at this moment in history the EPA is considering weakening standards on greenhouse gas emissions as proposed in the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule and the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule. In health policy analysis, we’ve learned to be wary of pure cost analyses, because the cheapest health care, viewed narrowly enough, is no health care. That option is certainly cheap, and if you don’t count the costs of people being sick, unable to work, and dying prematurely – if you just keep all those things out of your analysis of costs and don’t consider the goal of health – it’s very “efficient.”
The EPA‘s arguments for the proposed regulatory changes are just as ridiculous, just as disingenuous, and just as deadly. in these new proposals EPA focuses inappropriately on allowing individual car drivers/consumers (in the case of SAFE) and industrial polluters (in the case of ACE) to generate more greenhouse gas emissions and toxic emissions, because essentially lower prices and higher efficiency will allow them to pollute not just as much, but even more than currently, without higher costs to themselves. In addition, by loosening the rules on when existing power plant modifications need regulation, the proposed changes would weaken existing protections not just against increased greenhouse gas emissions but any and all kinds of toxic air pollution also resulting from such modifications. It’s like EPA is saying, as long as they stay within their budgets, we have to let them pollute as much as they can. But there is a global CO2 emissions budget EPA is ignoring, and on that budget we are already far into the red. The report released last week by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) took a strong stand in telling the world what we need to do to avoid catastrophic climate disruption. Global CO2 emissions are going to have to be cut by 45% by 2030, and we’ll need to have transitioned to a zero-emissions economy by 2050. What’s encouraging is that the report also lays out ways in which the required rapid change is technically feasible. This is absolutely not the moment for either fatalism or pandering to short-term private interests. It is unconscionable that the EPA seeks now to set aside its legal obligations to set standards in line with the science and with the public interest. The proposed changes violate EPA‘s responsibilities and should not be allowed.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments.”
On Sunday I spent some time canvassing for PCEI – The Portland Clean Energy Initiative. Confession–I did it because Anissa, who is staffing this for 350PDX, nagged me and all the other Board members until we said yes.
But I’m telling you about it because I enjoyed it SO muchthat I want to give you the opportunity to enjoy yourselves too!
I’m not kidding.
I was given a few blocks just northwest of the corner of MLK and Lombard, a very working class, low income area for the most part. Most people were not home on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon and I left them a piece of literature, but of the people who did answer their doors ALL of them were friendly and welcoming, not one door slammed in my face, and most of them did not know about PCEI!
I had some good conversations, met some interesting people, and felt great because I made a difference!
You use an app that is much, much easier than the clipboards and papers we used to have to juggle. So bring your phone!
Canvassing shifts are every evening Monday through Thursday, 5 – 8 PM, and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 AM – 2 PM and 1 – 5 PM. They request you let them know when you’ll be coming so they can have your canvassing kit, turf, and materials ready for you.
Don’t want to walk? You can phone-bank at the same times. They train folks as they come!
Everything is out of the PCEI space at the Sierra Club offices at SE 18th & Ankeny.
You can email or call either of our staff working on PCEI with questions or to sign up for a canvassing shift.
Please join us for a Interim-Lobby Day, September 25th, 9am in Salem, at Saint Mark Lutheran Church, 790 Marion St NE, Salem, OR 97301, (car-pools to be arranged). You will be able to meet with your Legislators as scheduled between 10 and 12. Then join us for the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction meeting in the Capitol from 1 – 4pm. This Committee, chaired by Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek, has been meeting monthly and will be developing state wide legislation to:
Put a cap on carbon pollution and make polluters pay for their greenhouse gas emissions
Invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency to ensure a just transition to clean energy.
To date climate activists have filled the hearing rooms to make a clear, visible statement that we want strong, effective legislation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions to at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.
If you cannot join us, write, call or email your State Representative and Senator. They need to hear from you now. Let them know you put the highest priority on addressing the climate crisis.
Contact Rand at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in carpooling, or if you have any questions