Energy | Environment

Opponents Challenge Environmental Review Of Kalama Methanol Plant


Opponents of a methanol plant proposed in Kalama, Washington, are challenging the environmental review of the project.

The Chinese-backed facility would convert natural gas to methanol, which would then be shipped overseas to be made into plastic. If it’s built as proposed on the lower Columbia River, it will be the world’s largest gas-to-methanol plant.

Opponents say the environmental review of the proposal, released last month, didn’t account for the environmental damage caused by drilling for natural gas to supply the plant or shipping the methanol to China.

“It doesn’t give a full and fair picture of what the project is or what the project’s environmental impacts would be,” said Miles Johnson with Columbia Riverkeeper, one of three environmental groups that filed the appeal. “It obscures where the gas is coming from and what would happen after the methanol leaves the refinery.”
 
State and county officials will use the environmental impact statement to make permitting decisions.
 
Johnson says opponents hope officials will improve the current environmental review and use it to deny the permits needed to build the project.

The Port of Kalama took the lead on conducting the required state environmental review for the methanol plant. Cowlitz County says an appeal of the review should go to a county hearings examiner.

But opponents argue the project is so large it should have been reviewed by state officials with the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council. They are challenging the county’s jurisdiction to hear the appeal and arguing it should be heard by the Washington Shorelines Hearings Board instead.

 

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