Opinion

It’s never too late to stop bad idea of LNG plant

William Kupinse is a volunteer for environmental group Red Line Tacoma. Photo by
William Kupinse is a volunteer for environmental group Red Line Tacoma. Photo by

Having vanquished the methanol refinery just one year ago, Tacoma faces another threat from the fossil fuel industry.

Puget Sound Energy has proposed an 8-million-gallon liquefied natural gas facility at the Port of Tacoma that would liquefy fracked natural gas and load LNG on ships plying Commencement Bay and on tanker trucks traveling our roads.

A facility the height of the Tacoma Dome would be built on the unstable soil of the Tideflats in an area long overdue for a major earthquake.

Along with shaky soil, the LNG plant is being built on greenwashing and deception. PSE’s website claims that the LNG plant is clean, safe and local, when in fact it’s dirty, dangerous and distantly owned.

According to PSE’s own figures, the plant would release 39.6 tons of toxic air pollutants and 20,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year. Because of its overall environmental impact, groups from the Sierra Club to the NAACP oppose the claim that natural gas is a “bridge fuel” to a cleaner future.

Due to the inherent risks, LNG safety expert Dr. Jerry Havens recommends such facilities be located at least three miles from densely populated areas. Yet within three miles of PSE’s proposed site, thousands of people live and work.

And there’s nothing local about the ownership of PSE; it belongs to the Macquarie Group of Sydney, Australia, so the profits that come from poisoning our air will end up far from Tacoma.

PSE does not have all its permits in place, but that hasn’t stopped the company from beginning “site development,” drilling thousands of pilings 80-100 feet deep in an area that overlaps two Superfund sites.

The Washington State Department of Ecology has identified the Occidental Chemical plume as a threat to marine life in the Hylebos Waterway and Creek, where salmon runs are already dwindling.

Why has PSE begun work on the project? I believe the company wants us to think it’s too late, that there’s no point in fighting the LNG plant.

But it’s never too late to protect the people we love. It’s never too late to stop this dangerous and unnecessary project.

It’s never too late to protect Tacoma’s children and elderly from the sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and particulates that the LNG plant would release.

It’s never too late to stand with the Puyallup tribe — a leader in the fight against fossil fuel expansion at the Port — and demand treaty rights be respected.

It’s never too late to stop the LNG plant from scaring away cleaner industries that should be Tacoma’s future. If the LNG plant is such a boon, why don’t we see Seattle clamoring for it?

It’s never too late to stop the LNG plant from sending the message that Tacoma is the petro-chemical wasteland of the Northwest and the hub for shipping fossil fuels to the Pacific Rim.

It’s never too late to insist on the human rights of the 1,500 residents of the Northwest Detention Center who will have to “shelter in place” if there’s an accident at the nearby LNG plant.

It’s never too late to say “no” to fossil fuel subsidies. Only 7 percent of the LNG’s capacity would provide gas to residential customers (capacity that is available elsewhere), yet PSE’s ratepayers will pay for 43 percent of the construction cost.

The plant would also get a roughly $3 million annual tax break. Such subsidies give fossil fuels an unfair advantage over solar, wind and other sustainable technologies.

It’s never too late for Tacoma voters to hold public leaders accountable. Of the three announced candidates for mayor, only Evelyn Lopez has taken a stand against the LNG proposal. Tacomans need a mayor who will protect Tacoma’s health, economy and environment.

And for all of us who call Tacoma home, it’s never too late to join together to say “No LNG” and demand that Tacoma be closed to further fossil fuel expansion.

It’s never too late to stop a bad idea.

William Kupinse is a volunteer for the local environmental group RedLine Tacoma, which advocates for a future free of fossil fuels. Read more at redlinetacoma.org

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