The state of Washington has asked to investigate a future methane plant that will be near the Columbia River, which will be the largest of its kind on the planet, asking for new studies on its environmental impact.
The state’s Department of Ecology in the northwest determined today that an “additional environmental review” of the plant’s greenhouse gas mitigation is needed.
“What was presented does not specify the environmental impact and requires a complete and sufficient analysis of the project’s greenhouse gases and the impacts of those emissions,” the state agency said.
The Northwest Innovation Works project, with a global investment of some 6 billion dollars, seeks to convert Canadian natural gas into methane, which would then be sent to China to make alkenes, compounds used in the manufacture of a variety of products, from fabrics and contact lenses to cell phones and medical equipment.
It will consist of three facilities, one in the port of Tacoma, another in the port of St. Helens and a third in the port of Kalama, this rejected until further review, a process that could demand up to a year.
The company and its promoters claim that the project will reduce global greenhouse gas emissions because China will not have to use coal to produce methane.
Although at one point state governor Jay Inslee was in favor of the project because of its global effects, last May he changed his mind and said he could not support a large new fossil fuel infrastructure in the state because of global warming.
The decision comes a week after conservation and public health groups, including Columbia Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club Beyond Natural Gas, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Tacoma to block laws that provided key tools for the project.
The groups allege that the federal reviews did not adequately consider the amount of greenhouse gases the project would emit in Washington and its impact on marine wildlife such as salmon and killer whales.
Supporters, including Cowlitz County and the Port of Kalama, not only highlighted the job creation the project would create, but through it Washington would reduce global emissions by at least 10 million metric tons per year, equivalent to removing more than 2 million cars from the road.