The state Department of Ecology has voided a key permit for a $1.8 billion methanol plant at the Port of Kalama and says it won’t reinstate it until the developer provides more information.
The plant was launched by a Chinese-backed joint venture, Northwest Innovation Works, and will convert natural gas to methanol for use as a feedstock in China’s plastics industry.
The shoreline conditional-use permit was granted by Cowlitz County in March and then forwarded to the Ecology department for further review.
Northwest Innovation Works had intended to build a $3.6 billion methanol plant on Tacoma’s Tideflats until community opposition scuttled their plans last April.
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In an April 18 letter, Ecology department officials said that Northwest Innovation Works needed to submit an improved site map, and an updated “narrative” of where the project’s structures would be in relation to the shore.
The letter also noted that the plant would have a self-imposed limit of 972,131 metric tons of carbon emissions each year. But reviewers thought the plans indicated the generation of an additional 232,136 million metric tons of emissions. So state officials want to know if the initial estimate is correct.
Northwest Innovation Works, in a written statement, said that it is confident “in the accuracy of our submission but appreciate the need for clarification in the review process …”
The project has garnered support among some Kalama residents for the economic boost it would offer, but many environmentalists spoke against it at public hearings.
Miles Johnson, an attorney with Columbia Riverkeeper — an environmental group — said he is happy that the state Department of Ecology is giving the proposal “the scrutiny it deserves.”