RESISTANCE: Tacoma LNG
WeRise Climate Action in Tacoma

Photo by Dan Villa

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has built a massive fracked gas facility on the ancestral tideflats of the Puyallup Tribe.

If allowed to operate, this facility would lock us into decades of fossil fuel use, threaten local health and safety, and place a huge financial burden on PSE residential customers who will only see a fraction of the benefit.

Legal appeals by the Puyallup Tribe and Earthjustice were heard by the Pollution Control Hearings Board in April, with a decision expected back this summer, potentially invalidating a key permit. Puget Sound Energy plans to start using the facility now, while the Tribe and community members await the verdict. Construction of the facility began two years before PSE obtained the necessary permits, while ignoring formal Stop Work Requests by the Puyallup Tribal government.

Leading the fight to protect our communities and the Salish Sea are the Puyallup Tribe (taking legal action as a sovereign government), individual tribal members, and groups like the Water Warrior Movement who perform ceremonies, host community gatherings, apply pressure on decision-makers, and remind us all to stay prayerful.

Standing with the Puyallup, local tribes have signed a letter opposing the LNG project and its lack of meaningful consultation, over 80 environmental and social justice organizations have signed letters of opposition, and tens of thousands of individuals have signed petitions or submitted public comments.

Governor Inslee announced in May 2019 that he “cannot in good conscience support continued construction of a liquefied natural gas plant in Tacoma”, yet took no action to stop the unpermitted construction from continuing, nor addressed the lack of legally mandated consultation during the state’s permitting process–drawing criticisms, such as this article by Native Daily Network, Thank You, But.. Governor Inslee Must Put Action Behind Rhetoric.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed an amicus brief, joining the Puyallup Tribe and Earthjustice in calling the analysis of Puget Sound Energy’s Liquefied Natural Gas facility unacceptable. “The bottom-line greenhouse gas analysis erroneously informed decision-makers that the Project would result in slight improvement in greenhouse gas emissions, where an accurate analysis would have found something different.”

Highlighting a major point of contention, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s decision to use outdated 2007 methane values instead of more current science, the brief explains that the final analysis “does not offer a defense of its figure based in science or factual accuracy, because there is no defense.” In this Native Daily Network article, Dakota Case responds to the news,  “My tribe and the state share sovereignty and our treaties protect our way of life. To finally see the State stand side by side with my people in fighting to protect who we are and the future of all people is heartwarming and fills me with hope. Thank you Bob Ferguson, from this appreciative Water Warrior on behalf of my children.”

Take action

As we wait for the court’s decision, we can put Puget Sound Energy’s harmful practices on trial right now, in the court of public opinion.

  • Send an email to to PSE’s CEO Mary Kipp, urging her to rescind their request to begin operation, and stand on the side of justice instead of perpetuating systemic racism and genocide. Share this video from a recent prayer vigil outside of the CEO’s home.
  • Fill out this volunteer form to get plugged in to our Tacoma LNG Resistance Team! We have mini work teams focusing on different ways to support this fight–from artful actions, to education & outreach, to social media support–so whatever your interests or skills, we will help put them to good use.
  • Write to local papers & elected officials to get the word out with this helpful Writing Guide!
  • Spread the word on social media! Be sure to tag PSE and use some of these: #FrackOffPSE #NoLNG253 #StandWithPuyallup #HonortheTreaties #EnvironmentalRacism
  • Tell Puget Sound Energy to stop spreading glossy lies! Click here to send emails to PSE executives urging them to leave Partnership for Energy Progress, an industry front group spreading propaganda about “natural” gas, that has gone so far as to target children with coloring pages and online games.

  • Check out this LNG Resistance Events Calendar for online and in-person events, as well as actions you can take from home!

Sign up

To receive campaign updates and calls to action about the Tacoma LNG Resistance, send an email to: standwithpuyallup-subscribe@lists.350seattle.org. You can also sign up for 350 Seattle’s big email list too!

Learn more

Permits

Construction of Puget Sound Energy’s LNG facility began several years ago, despite not having all the necessary permits and despite the lack of legally mandated tribal consultation. Puget Sound Energy has engaged in the practice of “build first, ask questions later” while the City of Tacoma, the board of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, and Governor Inslee, have ignored formal Stop Work Requests by the Puyallup Tribe, a sovereign nation, and massive public outcry for more oversight.

Legal appeals have been filed by both the Puyallup Tribe and by Earthjustice, representing environmental and health organizations, challenging the permit approved in December 2019 by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. The Agency’s decision has received widespread criticism for its lack of consultation with the Puyallup Tribe, use of outdated science and scenarios that the Washington Attorney General called “fictional”. This type of controversy has been present in every step of the permit process.

Legal appeals are currently scheduled to be heard in April of 2021, with Puget Sound Energy allowed to begin using the facility as soon as construction is complete. The 2 years of construction that took place before permits were granted is an example of environmental racism in action, here in Washington state.

Missing: health & safety analysis
PSE chose to locate its LNG refinery, 8 million gallon storage tank, and bunkering operations on the Cascadia fault line, in the Mt. Rainier lahar zone, on toxic, man-made fill with the potential for liquefaction, in an area anticipated to be regularly flooded by 2030, adjacent to storage of other explosive fuels, and less than 2000 feet from the nearest home.

With all of these red flags, the City of Tacoma, as lead SEPA agency overseeing the project, rubber-stamped the final Environmental Impact Study without running any computer safety modeling of what could happen if an accident at the plant, or a natural disaster such as an earthquake, caused an explosion or ruptured the massive tank.

The refinery will emit toxins and carcinogens 24 hours a day, yet no public health analysis has been conducted. Emissions will include benzene, xylene, and toluene, which can cause birth defects, neurological disorders, respiratory issues and asthma. When air permits in Washington state are being determined, they do not take into account neighboring facilities and the toxins already harming residents and workers–each facility is allowed to produce the maximum “allowable” amount–regardless of how much pollution and health impacts already exist in the area.

Building refineries and other polluting industries on or near indigenous land is an all too common practice, a continuation of historical racism and genocide. The Tacoma Human Rights Commission concluded that further study of the health and safety impacts are needed, pointing to the disparate impacts that would be felt by already marginalized populations–the Puyallup Tribe and immigrants housed less than 2 miles away in the for-profit Northwest Detention Center. There is currently no evacuation plan in place for immigrants detained at NWDC if an explosion or other catastrophe were to happen.

LNG: not a climate solution

The main purpose of this facility would be to sell fracked gas to maritime customers for a profit, under the false premise that Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), a fossil fuel mostly sourced from fracking, is a “bridge fuel” and a way to combat rising greenhouse gas emissions. Although LNG burns cleaner at point of combustion than other fossil fuels, when lifecycle emissions are considered, there are no climate benefits and the pollution impacts are transferred to communities near extraction.

In 2019, the International Maritime Organization conducted its own analysis and concluded “LNG is not a climate solution.”

Some have asked “If not LNG, then what?” Advocates for a Cleaner Tacoma, one of the groups appealing the facility’s air permit, has identified some solutions here.

Who pays for this project?
  • PSE plans to pass on 43% of the construction costs, around $133 million, to residential customers, even though residential peak-shaving accounts for less than 2% of the facility’s stated function!
  • Taxpayers would also likely bear the cost in the event of a catastrophe. Operating under a Limited Liability Corporation means PSE’s shell company could declare bankruptcy and walk away without paying for the losses of life and property.
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