Groups Call on Ecology to Protect the Columbia River


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Department of Ecology can reject the world’s largest methanol refinery in Kalama

February 27, 2017 (Kalama, WA) – Local and national groups are calling on the Washington Department of Ecology to protect the Columbia River and our climate by overturning Cowlitz County’s approval of the proposed methanol refinery in Kalama, Washington. The groups urge Ecology to consider the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the world’s largest methanol refinery. Columbia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity expect to appeal if Ecology ignores critical concerns like climate change.

Despite widespread public opposition, Cowlitz County granted the Shorelines Substantial Development and Conditional Use permits for Northwest Innovation Works’ methanol refinery earlier today. The County’s approval triggers the Department of Ecology’s opportunity to review and authorize—or reject—the permits.

Nearly three thousand public comments have been submitted against the Kalama methanol refinery. Opposition centers on the impacts to the Columbia River, climate change, the earthquake-prone nature of the site, and insufficient mitigation.

“We vow to fight this methanol refinery every step of the way to protect the health and safety of our river communities,” stated Sally Keely, Kalama resident and professor of mathematics. “The County’s approval ignored the methanol refinery’s climate pollution, susceptibility to earthquakes, and impacts on Columbia River salmon,” said Miles Johnson, Clean Water Attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper.

“We can’t ignore a project that increases Washington’s fracked gas consumption by one third,” stated Cecile Gernez, Conservation Organizer for the Sierra Club. “The company is also planning a twin methanol refinery at Port Westward, Oregon, and this project is just miles from the Millennium coal export terminal and the Tesoro-Savage oil terminal. The climate risks of all fossil fuel export proposals must be looked at cumulatively.”

“We need to move away from dirty fossil fuels that will only exacerbate the current climate crisis,” said Jared Margolis, Senior Attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This project is a step backwards, and would harm the waters and air that people and endangered salmon rely on.”

Northwest Innovation Works has a challenging path ahead, despite the County’s approval. The methanol refinery still needs a state air permit and federal permits for construction and dredging in the Columbia River.

Columbia Riverkeeper is a non-profit organization working to protect and restore the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization—with more than two million members and supporters.

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