Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is building a massive fracked gas facility on the Tacoma Tideflats, in Medicine Creek Treaty Territory.
If completed, 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.
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.
The City of Tacoma failed to conduct any safety or public health analysis and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency based their permit decision on outdated science, and fictional scenarios. The public deserves a full and credible review for such a large and dangerous facility.
Send a letter to Governor Jay Inslee urging him to direct the Department of Ecology to oversee a credible and thorough review of the Tacoma LNG fracked gas project. You can also call Governor Inslee’s office at (360) 902-4111.
- Ancestral Waters
- Filmed on the frontlines of the Tacoma LNG fight, this is the story of The Puyallup Tribe’s fight for their treaty, their water, and their way of life. Streaming for free on YouTube. A toolkit will be available soon to help interested groups host online watch parties and discussions of the film.
- Video of the Protectors of the Salish Sea visiting Ecology on a prayer walk last September
- Video Delivery to Gov Inslee of almost 150k comments urging Washington to Power Past Fracked Gas
- Press Release: Did the City of Tacoma Hide LNG Safety Documents from the Public?”
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.
While legal appeals have won an October 2020 court docket, Puget Sound Energy would be allowed to start using the facility as soon as construction is complete.
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 Liquified 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.