May 13, 2019
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Gov. Inslee announced opposition to two major energy projects

In a "180-degree turnaround," Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week that he would now oppose two natural gas facilities that he had earlier praised and supported for their replacement of dirtier bunker and coal fuel.

After signing a bill banning hydraulic fracking for oil and natural gas in the state, Inslee said he "cannot in good conscience" continue his support for a liquified natural gas (LNG) plant in Tacoma and a methanol production facility at Kalama on the Columbia River.

“In the early days of both projects, I said they could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions as we transition to cleaner energy sources, but I am no longer convinced that locking in these multi-decadal infrastructure projects are sufficient to accomplishing what’s necessary," Inslee said.

Both facilities will use low-carbon natural gas to replace dirtier diesel and coal.

Puget Sound Energy, which is building the LNG facility on the Tacoma Tideflats, defended the facility.

“The Tacoma LNG facility will deliver the cleanest fuel choice possible today for shipping and transportation — one that multiple, local, state and federal government studies conclude benefits the climate, improves local air quality and reduces the chance of oil spills in Puget Sound — while helping ensure local families and businesses have safe dependable energy," PSE reports, via The News Tribune.

Despite saying he now opposes the projects, Inslee said that the state's regulatory process would continue unchanged.

The Port of Tacoma issued a statement saying it takes the governor at his word.

"Though an imperfect solution to the climate challenges we face, LNG represents a significant improvement over using bunker fuel to power the cargo vessels that travel vast distances and drive our economy. We appreciate the desire to move our economy beyond fossil fuels, but at this moment in history there exists no real-world alternative to fossil fuels for powering these vessels," the Port wrote.

The Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW) project in the Port of Kalama is a $2 billion gas-to-methanol refinery that aims to ship its product to Asia for production of plastics, replacing methanol produced from coal.

The plant would create 1,000 construction and 200 permanent jobs.

“It has resulted in what will be production of the cleanest methanol on the planet – replacing the dirtiest,” said Simon Zhang, CEO of NWIW, The Daily News reports. “We know that Gov. Inslee’s decision today isn’t a message to stop innovating.”

Ted Sprague, Cowlitz Economic Development Council president, expressed concern that the governor's statement was related to his run for president with a platform focused on fighting climate change.

“He (Inslee) wants to show the rest of the U.S. that he’s the greenest of the green (candidates),” Sprague said. “I understand that motivation when you are running for president and you want to establish and differentiate yourself.… For his purposes, that’s fine. But for the future of Washington state and jobs, it’s going to hurt us.”

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100% Clean Energy Bill

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