Protesters of a liquefied natural gas plant being built on Tacoma's Tideflats gathered outside Puget Sound Energy's headquarters in Bellevue on Monday and did a little building of their own.
KOMO News reports that protesters built a small replica of a Native American longhouse directly outside the entrance to PSE's headquarters on Monday morning.
The longhouse was built without permits, protesters told KOMO, though they told KOMO they've applied for permits with the city of Bellevue.
The demonstration was a dig at PSE, which was issued a notice of violation by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency last April for “failure to obtain a notice of construction approval prior to construction, installation, establishment or modification of a source,” according to a letter the agency sent PSE.
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"This is how it feels when your consent is taken from you — we’re building without permission on PSE property, just as PSE is doing on our land," Puyallup Tribe member Dakota Case told KOMO. "But ours is a peaceful symbolic gesture, not a bullying, dangerous, and profit-taking one."
The Puyallup Tribal Council and individual members have said the tribe was not consulted about the project, which they say is being built on ancestral tidelands, and have argued that consultation is an important part of the Puyallup Land Claims Settlement of 1990. The land where the plant is being built is owned by the Port of Tacoma.
PSE spokesman Grant Ringel said the company supports the rights of the protesters to express their opinions. He said the protesters arrived about 8 a.m. and left about 10:30 a.m.
"The only issue we had with this protest was that it created a safety issue because it blocked people from getting into the building to do their jobs from the street entrance, and blocked people from exiting the building through that entrance," Ringel said.
Puyallup Tribal Council member James Rideout said Monday the tribe continues to be concerned about the plant's construction.
"The liquid natural gas plant that is currently being constructed on Tacoma's waterfront is dangerous, and construction should be stopped until proper permits have been completed," Rideout said. "We deserve to fully understand all risks associated with this project."
When completed, the facility would produce 250,000 gallons of LNG a day. A storage tank at the plant would hold 8 million gallons of LNG. Most of that would be sold to customers, including the shipping company TOTE Maritime. PSE also plans to use the tank’s contents as a backup supply for high-demand gas days.
The utility repeatedly has touted the plant as a green project and has said LNG is much cleaner than the bunker fuel that big ships have historically run on.