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New Opportunities for Conversations About Methanol, Methanol, Methanol!
As public concern continues to build over the proposal by Northwest Innovation Works to build a methanol processing plant in the Port of Tacoma, there are a few upcoming public events to be aware of.
The City of Tacoma, acting as lead agency on the Environmental Impact Statement process for the project, is still in the information gathering phase, gathering input on the scope of what it should consider in evaluating the environmental impacts of the plant.
Public Scoping Meeting
This early scoping phase has already included a number of blockbuster public meetings, with hundreds of Tacomans in attendance to express their concerns related to the project. The next of these public meetings had been scheduled for this Tuesday, February 16, at Meeker Middle School in northeast Tacoma. The City has now announced that meeting has been rescheduled to Wednesday, February 24, so that it can be relocated to the Convention Center.
The meeting had been planned for Meeker in order to make it easier for residents of northeast Tacoma to attend, but the move was made to "allow for more community participation." In other words, they're expecting another big turnout. This meeting is a chance for members of the public to comment on what they hope to see included in the scope of the review that will analyze likely environmental impacts, and what alternatives or mitigations might be necessary if the plant were to go forward. There will also be opportunities for the public to ask questions about the project, and learn more about the public process around it.
Northwest Innovation Works Methanol Plant Public Scoping Meeting
Wednesday, February 24
Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center ballroom
Doors will open at 5 p.m. for speaker sign-up and the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Although this is the last of the scheduled public meetings, the City will be taking written public comment on the scope of the environmental review process through 5 p.m. March 4. Learn more on the City’s website. They are aiming to have a Draft EIS ready in September for public review and the next round of comment opportunities.
Port Study Session
The City meeting has been postponed, but the Port of Tacoma Commission is scheduled to discuss the plant during the study session portion of their meeting this week. The study session item appears as item 4A on the agenda. The Port is the landlord for the project, having signed the lease with NWIW for the property back in 2014. A public comment session for the commission meeting follows on the agenda. This passage from the Port Commisssion's rules for comment seems relevant.
On “non-action” agenda items listed under General Business or for Study Session presentations, public comments may be offered at the discretion of the Commission President and at the conclusion of the meeting during the general public comment period.
So it sounds like there may or may not be a comment opportunity. We've asked. If you have thoughts, you could email your elected Port Commissioners. If you can't make it to the meeting, the Port does stream their commission meetings at portoftacoma.com.
Port of Tacoma Commission Meeting
Thursday, February 18. Commission Meeting begins at noon.
The Fabulich Center, Room 104
3600 Port of Tacoma Road
Informed Discussion Series
The Center for Urban Waters is hosting a series of events aimed at establishing a common understanding of the science and engineering underlying the methanol plant. These talks are meant to provide scientific explanations of various aspects of the plant, to help the public better understand what is being proposed - and to ask more informed questions as the public process moves forward.
Although not a part of the official environmental review process, and not a chance for public comment, this series should provide solid, fact-based scientific answers to issues and concerns related to the project. Each session will feature a slate of invited experts making focused presentations on relevant topics, and answering questions submitted ahead of time.
Citizens for a Healthy Bay is taking those questions ahead of time for each of the sessions, to submit a question, use one of the following methods:
- Tweet to @chb_tacoma using the hashtag: #253methanoltalk
- Post to Citizens for a Healthy Bay's Facebook page using the hashtag: #253methanoltalk
- Send email to Ryan Cruz at email@example.com
The first session, titled "Framing the issues: Local to global perspectives," happened last week (recorded for viewing online). We highly recommend taking the time to watch this. It's an hour and 45 minutes long, but it's full of useful information on the environmental review and permitting processes the plant will go through, and the basic science behind methanol, methanol plants, and other relevant information. Put it on while you're doing laundry or cooking dinner.
The first of four events, so there are still three left - on various relevant topics. The first two come before that March 4 scoping comment deadine, but that won't be the end of the process, with the actual environmental review still to come, along with another round of public comment.
Urban Waters methanol plant discussion series: These events are free and open to the public, but do require advance registration. You can learn more and register at tacoma.uw.edu/methanol.All events are scheduled to take place in the Carwein Auditorium in the Keystone Building on the UW Tacoma campus.
Potential impacts on regional water and power supplies
Thursday, February 25, 6-7:30pm
Moderator: Joel Baker, UW Tacoma
Speakers: Robert Mack, Tacoma Public Utilities; Eric de Place, Sightline Institute; Dan Kirchner, NW Gas Association
Potential implications for the local environment
Thursday, March 3, 6-7:30pm
Speakers: Joe Casola, UW Climate Impacts Group; Ed Kolodziej, UW Tacoma; Sheri Tonn, Pacific Lutheran Univ.
Developing a common understanding to refine the discussion
Thursday, March 10, 6-7:30pm
Moderator: Melissa Malott, Citizens for a Healthy Bay
Speakers: Robin Evans-Agnew, UW Tacoma; Jean Jensen, UW Tacoma
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