Methanol Planting Scoping Process Paused by NWIW

We just received the following message regarding the proposed methanol plant in the Port of Tacoma:


In response to public concerns, Northwest Innovation Works has asked the City of Tacoma to pause the environmental review of our proposed methanol plant in Tacoma.

NWIW’s goal is to build a local industry that contributes to the economy and protects the environment by reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. NWIW’s use of new clean technology provides an exciting opportunity for Washington and Oregon to become world leaders in addressing climate change through innovation by producing methanol and the products we use every day in a more environmentally responsible way. The Pacific Northwest’s dedication to environmental protection is one of the reasons NWIW chose this region for its facilities.

Given these objectives, we have been surprised by the tone and substance of the vocal opposition that has emerged in Tacoma. To force a facility on a community that does not welcome it would not be consistent with our goals. Therefore, we have decided to pause the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) environmental review process in Tacoma.

We will use the next several months to engage the Tacoma community in further dialogue. This will provide us an opportunity to share more details about our proposed project, discuss the environmental and safety procedures we are planning, and hear directly from the public about their concerns, as well as receive input on further innovations.

We thank those who have shown support for our project, especially the working men and women in the building trades, the Port of Tacoma, and many other community leaders. We remain committed to Tacoma, and will restart the process after assessing the results of our engagement with the community.


Murray V. Godley, III



It will be interesting to see where things go from here. 


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Way to break the story!

Good news, and probably a smart move by NWIW.  This feels like a turning point in how Tacoma sees itself, and maybe how the region see us.

February 19, 2016 at 4:18 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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...“sees us.”  My failure to proofread will not help.

February 19, 2016 at 4:20 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Cindy Beckett

Way to break the story!

Good news, and probably a smart move by NWIW.  This feels like a turning point in how Tacoma sees itself, and maybe how the region see us.

March 19, 2016 at 11:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Cindy Beckett

This is not exactly true.  There is more to this than implied.  The proponent pulled out because after rounds of contact with state and federal agencies, it was officially confirmed that Tacoma does not have qualified staff to do the EIS, and state ECY was out of line in turning the EIS over to Tacoma due to this fact.  Non-government staff reports on an EIS on federally protected waters are not regarded as “official” and the Port may not simply run with the findings of outside private persons.  Additionally, anyone performing this kind of evaluation must be degreed in that specific field and must also be licensed with the state of WA.  This is why it was turned back to Ecology, who must abide by and apply the federal laws of the CWA (clean water act) and the ESA (endangered species act) when evaluating the potential impacts to these already degraded waters.  TPU also confirmed that they have no way to re-oxygenate the millions of gallons of waste water from the plant before releasing it into the already federally listed dead zone AKA Commencement Bay.  They also cannot remove the cadmium contamination from the spent water, so it would still be in the waste water when released into tidal waters.  This qualifies it as an EPA enforceable federal violation of discharging toxic contamination into federal waters.  The fines are huge and apply daily for every day the violation continues, and both EPA and the federal courts apply the fines to all parties involved.  In other words, Tacoma, the POT and NWIW would receive the same daily fines.  It’s enough to literally break the city as they would be unsuccessful in efforts to remove the contaminants from the tidal waters.  Do not let the sooth-sayer words of the proponent fool you.  They did no one any favors in this pretense of “asking Tacoma to pause the environmental review”.

March 19, 2016 at 11:57 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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As a general rule, good projects don’t happen quickly to a community…. Bad projects get rushed though. No matter where you stand on the issue, taking a pause here to learn more can’t be a bad thing.

February 19, 2016 at 4:36 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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William Kupinse

Please stop describing the proposed methanol refinery as a “green” industry that will “protect the environment,” Mr. Godley.  No plan that uses fracked natural gas along with massive amounts of electricity and fresh water to produce plastic can be described as “green.”

NWIW would seem to want to halt the growing momentum of the anti-methanol refinery movement by taking a strategic pause.  NWIW’s claim that it “will use the next several months to engage the Tacoma community in further dialogue” suggests that we will be subjected to a well-funded propaganda campaign.

The people of Tacoma have spoken loudly and clearly at the two scoping meetings that have already been held: we do not want a petrochemical plant built in our city.  Tacoma’s polluting industries belong to its past, not its future.

Please respect the expressed wishes of our community.  We don’t simply want the scoping process paused; we want the refinery proposal withdrawn entirely and permanently.

I encourage all Tacomans wanting to learn the facts about the methanol industry to attend the talk by environmental chemist and MacArthur Genius Award winner Wilma Subra Thursday, February 25 at 6 p.m. in Kilworth Chapel at the University of Puget Sound:

February 19, 2016 at 6:39 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Published Author RR AndersonRegistered

BILLBOARDS, NWDC, WALMART…  not so fast Methanol Plant!

February 19, 2016 at 9:38 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tim Smith

Watch the Mayor in the new video about the plant here:

March 27, 2016 at 5:34 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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A “green” company would be creating new multiple use, sustainably manufactured products that would replace the holocaust of single use plastic “products we use everyday.”  That these guys are now passing themselves off as green is nauseating.

February 20, 2016 at 8:25 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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So they’re pausing to figure out “better” ways to convince us this is a good idea?  No, they just need to not build the plant, period.  Thanks.

February 20, 2016 at 1:57 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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So they’re pausing to figure out “better” ways to convince us this is a good idea?  No, they just need to not build the plant, period.  Thanks.

Maybe not; for example, this pause could have been planned because the final methanol facility FEIS might expose the lacking community safety review done for the LNG facility as completed by Tacoma SEPA FEIS. My suggestion: read the LNG facility Tacoma SEPA Final EIS and judge for yourself what was considered or not considered for Tacoma Community hazard(s) and how to protect Tacoma Community from such hazards. Then look at just what the Tacoma Community considers is the potential Tacoma environmental risks as created by methanol facility. Some things are similar between LNG and methanol facility: 1) natural gas (methane fracking gas) supply; 2) burning above ground flare systems; 3) it’s difficult to contain gas with high amounts of H2S present; therefore, both have potential Tacoma Community risks. But, just what are the risks?

February 24, 2016 at 7:00 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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It’s a strange strategy by NWIW.  The only thing that can answer people’s questions (or not) is a draft EIS that describes in detail what’s actually planned, and this decision delays it indefinitely.  A few months of general talk about global carbon emissions and a vague commitment to mitigating local impacts won’t do the trick.  you have to wonder if the tanking Chinese economy and the two other, less urban (and less controversial) proposals in the NW are behind the decision.

February 20, 2016 at 6:52 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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It’s just a profit minded move to go back to the discussion board to create a new plan to proceed—which is to brainwash Tacoma residents into believing the plant is “green”. What they fail to mention is that this toxic and wasteful endeavor affects far more than Tacoma residents. Please continue to reach out to neighboring cities as they would be devastated by the methanol plant also!

February 20, 2016 at 9:10 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Decades ago some businesses on the tideflats casually spread slag (byproduct waste from copper-refining) from the ASARCO plant at Ruston to firm-up muddy soil on log yards where ducks once flew on the old larger Puyallup Indian Reservation without realizing the toxic brew that later arose from mixing slag, sawdust and water that caused further environmental harm and costly clean-up.  For almost eighty-five years Tacoma has also struggled with the mixed-blessing of hosting a major pulp mill on the tideflats, with recent owners to their credit at least investing in new equipment to lessen its impact on nasal senses.  It always seems that many such sites on the tideflats eventually require environmental remediation decades later (e.g., the old coal-to-gas plant not far from downtown).  There will also now be much debate about the science related to the proposed methanol plant.  The fair questions to ask are also about the finances regarding the design and engineering of the plant:  is the firm spending as much money needed to make it safe, per current accepted engineering standards for the highest safety option available, or will the firm spend what is only required per local, state and federal law and code?  Similarly, though the site once hosted a Kaiser Aluminum plant, what means will be taken by the plant developer to prevent what might have been historically swampy tideflats land from turning to mush beneath the planned project in the event of an earthquake?  Look at how the rise of industry in the last thirty-five years designed to meet the overseas needs of Wal-Mart consumers has laid waste to the landscape of China in areas equivalent to Tacoma (in comparison to fancy Seattle), away from where influential members of the business elite and Chinese Communist Party officials reside.  In southern China, for example, poor workers barely making a living toil in a toxics-filled area to salvage metal from junked computers sent there in containers shipped through the Port of Tacoma.  Meanwhile, is Northwest Innovation Works set to sell a load of public relations garbage to Tacomans in the next few months by purchasing the opinions of science experts or will local government and civic organizations also make sure that not all scientific opinions relevant to the project are already bought and paid for by those with resources to steer the debate?  As for China’s Communist Party, while it by public statement, works for the interest of the People, there is a leadership cadre in Bejing that plays hardball with development projects to secure specific goals for the majority (i.e, the almighty Yuan/Dollar that fuels the national economy there) and often runs roughshod over an individual’s rights,  Dissent is historically discouraged in China, too, but there are some issues on which silence is complicity with allowing a wrong to occur.  Remember as well. the Johnstown Flood in about 1889 and the poorly-engineered dam in Pennsylvania that impounded a recreational reservoir for business bigwigs that later burst whose disregard for ordinary people downstream laid waste to a whole town.  It is good that this methanol plant project has been paused for awhile:  is it right for Tacoma?  Are Tacomans going to have the self-esteem to demand that the plant meet their community standards or will their elected officials just be lapdogs for the Citizens United-style money the developer can spend to try to buy its objective?  Just remember, too, that for tolerating the construction of a wider Interstate 90 that the residents of Mercer Island obtained lids over much of the structure on the island as a concession.  What improvements in the proposed design must Tacomans demand in the project to make it palatable or will it in any incarnation ever be acceptable on the tideflats?  What leverage can Tacomans muster regarding this plant?  The port commission and city council must also accountable regarding how this plant is developed, if it is built.  Someone must be responsible.  There is also too much China celebration in Tacoma right now (the shameful expulsion of the Chinese in the 1880s was terrible and a civic shame; the ordinary people of China are honorable and worthwhile) and not enough skepticism to demand that the China’s Communist government acting on its moral principles make sure its investment in the plant slated for Tacoma is meant for the general betterment of the local community and not just for the benefit of a few elite business leaders in Middle Kingdom, as China refers to itself.  This plant is more than just about 260-long term jobs.  It is about making sure developers of other projects, like the planned hotel and commercial center in downtown Tacoma proposed by investors from China, also remain bullish on Tacoma even with the possibility of a major methanol plant rising in the city.  Would this plant enhance property values or diminish property values?

February 21, 2016 at 4:26 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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