Columbia River Methanol Refineries

Act Now – Tell the Washington Department of Ecology to deny the Shoreline Conditional Use permit for the Kalama methanol refinery! The world’s largest methanol refinery is too great of a risk for our Columbia River! 

Act Now – Tell Washington Governor Jay Inslee to oppose the Kalama methanol refinery: Building the world’s largest natural gas-to-methanol refinery is the wrong direction for our safety, river, climate and private property rights!

Here’s the video explaining methanol refining and export in 4 minutes for context, with a petition at the end:

By any measure, the methanol refineries slated for construction on the banks of the Columbia River are giants. Northwest Innovation Works, a corporation controlled by of the Chinese government, seeks to build methanol refineries in the Northwest to take advantage of our cheap natural gas, electricity, and water. The methanol would be shipped to China to make plastics.

Northwest Innovation Works, the company backing the projects, proposed a similar methanol refinery in Tacoma. Public outcry over dangerous pollution from methanol refining drove the corporation out of town. The Columbia River is their new target.

The Kalama methanol refinery alone would use a stunning volume of natural gas; 320 million cubic feet per day, more than all other Washington industry combined. The refinery proposed at Port Westward, near Clatskanie, Oregon, matches its Kalama counterpart in size and impacts to the Columbia River.

natural-gas-use-in-wa-by-sector
Port of Kalama Methanol Refinery

Local opposition to the massive refinery and its associated Kalama Lateral natural gas pipeline is strong. Despite community concern, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was issued in September 2016.  The EIS examined only impacts from the world’s largest methanol refinery narrowly – ignoring the impacts of natural gas extraction, methane leaks from pipeline transport and the transportation of methanol to China.

Scroll down for detailed information about the Kalama methanol refinery, including factsheets and reports, our technical permit comments, and blog posts and press releases about the campaign.

Port Westward Methanol Refinery

Northwest Innovation Works signed a lease option with the Port of St. Helens to construct a methanol refinery at their Port Westward property near the town of Clatskanie, Oregon. The methanol refinery at Port Westward would mirror the Kalama proposal. The company has not yet advanced to the permitting stage.

Beyond Kalama and Port Westward: methanol refineries mean more fracked natural gas and more pipelines.

Columbia Riverkeeper is collaborating with local residents to oppose the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refineries proposed in Kalama, Washingon and at Port Westward, Oregon. But Columbia Riverkeeper is also exposing how these massive methanol refinery proposals would profoundly increase our region’s consumption of fracked gas and drive the construction of massive new gas pipelines into the Pacific Northwest.

Why is fracked gas such a big deal? It is primarily comprised of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Methane leaks from fracking gas wells and gas pipelines are so severe that scientists have concluded that fracked gas can be as bad for our climate as coal.

Thus far, the methanol company has not explained how the existing natural gas pipeline system could supply the methanol refinery. But newly released documents from NW Natural explain that the gas company could lease pipeline capacity to the Kalama methanol refinery to “bridge the gap in time between the commencement of methanol plant operation and the in-service date for an upstream infrastructure expansion, say three years.” In other words, a major new natural gas pipeline into the Northwest would be built in the next three years to supply the methanol refinery.


Fact Sheets and Resources to Learn More about Methanol

Columbia Riverkeeper’s Comments on Permits

More posts, press releases, and information about the campaign to protect the Columbia from the world’s largest methanol refinery: