New Hurdles as Tacoma LNG Bunkering Project Completes Environmental Review

Monday May 20, 2019

Puget Sound Energy (PSE)'s planned LNG bunkering facility in Tacoma, Washington has once again made mixed progress, having now completed its delayed environmental review but lost the support of state Governor Jay Inslee.

The permit was originally delayed last year after it was unclear if the plant would help to reduce GHGs.

The final version of the report was issued at the end of March and reiterated what was presented in an earlier draft report. Critically, the report concludes that the facility will reduce GHGs but only if the sole source of gas used comes from British Columbia, Canada.

The report says methane emissions from US gas production are five times higher than their neighbour.

Complicating the picture for those looking to form an opinion on the project is the fact that Canadian media has also cast serious doubts over the reporting accuracy of methane leaks and fugitive emissions from Canada's oil and gas industry.

Still, Puget Sound Energy welcomed the report, saying it "reiterates that the Tacoma LNG project will result in a net reduction in greenhouse gases."

Members of The Puyallup Tribe are among the skeptics of the final review and have called on the Washington Department of Ecology for "a legitimate review .... that fairly weighs the science of methane leaks from fracked gas infrastructure."

Local media then reported Monday that Gov. Inslee, having previously backed to proposal, announced he too is against the LNG project as well as a separate Methane project.

"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 was quoted as saying.

Skeptics of Inslee say the change of stance is more to do with his 2020 presidential bid, having made an economic plan built around clean energy central to his campaign.

Despite the continued pushback, the LNG bunkering facility is still moving ahead and Inslee insists his position on the matter will not interfere with due process.

"I want to be clear that my stance on these projects does not change our state's regulatory process," he said.

"As is the case with any project, our state agencies will comply with state and federal laws to ensure a rigorous and objective review of projects. Decisions on permit applications must also be made in accordance with state and federal law."