Saturday, April 4, 2020
April 4, 2020

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Port of Kalama takes legal action against Ecology over methanol plant


LONGVIEW — The Port of Kalama on Monday took legal action to “compel a timely review” of Northwest Innovation Works’ proposed $2 billion methanol plant, following an announcement last month by state officials that further review of the project was needed before making a decision on a key permit.

The port filed a petition with the Cowlitz County Superior Court to prevent the state Department of Ecology from further delaying review of the proposed Kalama methanol plant, according to a press release.

“After a great deal of consideration of the options available, the port reluctantly filed this action against Ecology,” said Mark Wilson, port executive director. “The existing environmental review of the project is more than adequate, exceeding all requirements and addressing all of Ecology’s comments and questions. The port, the county and the project proponent, Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW) are entitled to have the existing documents reviewed and a decision made.”

Jeff Zenk, Ecology spokesman, said the department just received the petition Monday evening and is reviewing it.

Ecology announced last month it will conduct its own review of the project’s greenhouse gas emissions finding the late-summer study by Cowlitz County and the Port of Kalama insufficient.

The department didn’t give an exact timeline for the review, but Zenk said earlier this month that similar studies took about one year.

Ecology’s study will include the emissions of extracting the natural gas and transporting it to Kalama, where it would be used to make methanol for plastics production in Asia.

The port’s petition asks the court to order Ecology to cease preparation of the “unnecessary” second greenhouse gas review of the project and to comply with the timeline required by the law, according to the press release.

Cowlitz County approved the shoreline permit for the project in September.

Ecology then had 30 days to decide on the permit but put the determination on hold because officials said they can’t make a decision without sufficient analysis.

Northwest Innovation Works has pledged to offset all its in-state greenhouse emissions, and the county/port climate change analysis concluded that the project would reduce global emissions by at least 10 million metric tons per year, or the equivalent of about 2 million cars, by offsetting coal-based methanol production.

The port and the county’s review and the emissions mitigation plan offered by NWIW “exceeds anything ever done in the state,” Wilson said in the press release.