Final environmental report issued for LNG project Report does nothing to quell fears among opposition

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According to the report, PSCAA carefully considered all comments submitted, developed responses to the comments, and included changes and supporting documents due to some of the comments received.

Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) has released a 57-page Final Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS), which supplements the Final Environ mental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the LNG facility issued by the City of Tacoma.

This FSEIS evaluates greenhouse gas emissions impacts associated with the construction and operation of an LNG liquefaction and marine bunkering facility within the City of Tacoma on land leased from the Port of Tacoma, and construction of segments of a natural gas pipeline in the City of Fife and unincorporated areas of Pierce County. The report also reiterates that the natural gas supply will be piped in from Canada.

The public was given numerous opportunities to provide feedback to PSCAA, includinga public comment period that extended for 45 days last year. PSCAA received thousands of letters, emails, postcards, petition, and more in addition to oral testimony at public hearings held last October. PSCAA says that it received approximately 14,820 comment submittals.

According to the report, PSCAA carefully considered all comments submitted, developed responses to the comments, and included changes and supporting documents due to some of the comments received.

Based on the analysis presented in the FSEIS, the following major conclusions were drawn:

  • The use of LNG produced at the facility is predicted to result in an overall decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, as LNG would replace petroleum-based fuels for marine vessels, trucks, and peak shaving. The report states that the greater the replacement of other petroleum-based fuels with LNG, the greater the overall reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is dependent upon the sole source of natural gas supply to the facility entering Washington through British Columbia. The SEIS analysis supports the recommendation that the facility’s air permit, if approved, include the condition regarding the sole source of the natural gas through British Columbia as a requirement so the analysis and this conclusion is consistent with the proponent’s project description.
  • The report demonstrates that greenhouse gas emissions are predicted to overall decrease with the completion of the LNG facility if the sole source of the natural gas supplied to the facility is through British Columbia.

“The (report) re-iterates that the Tacoma LNG project will result in a net reduction in greenhouse gases,” said Puget Sound Energy Director of Communications Grant Ringel in a statement. “We’re very hopeful the FSEIS will clear the way for an efficient issuance of the necessary air permit which will allow the facility to move forward to begin achieving its full array of environmental benefits.”

As for what the next steps will be in getting the LNG facility completed, according to Steve Van Slyke, director of compliance with PSCAA, “…the FSEIS represents the completion of this part of the review process and will be used to support the review of the air permit application, which will resume.” He said that while schedule information regarding the air permit review status and processes are not presently available, updates would be provided as they are known and would include a public involvement process.

Those wishing to know the schedule for future permit review work are invited to subscribe to the project e-mail list at http://tinyurl.com/y5brbwah.“We will notify everyone on that list when we have schedule updates,” he said.

 

TRIBE CONTINUES OPPOSITION

 

Opponents of the LNG project remain unconvinced of its benefits. At the website powerpastfrackedgas.org, a host of environmental activists weighed in on the FSEIS report, citing a range of reasons, from climate change to putting lives at risk at the Northwest Detention Center located near the LNG site. Read all about it at http://tinyurl.com/y6os3dta.

Among those continuing to oppose the LNG facility is the Puyallup Tribe, which issued a lengthy statement, as follows. Tacoma Weekly reached out to the tribe with a list of pertinent questions, but received no response. When asked about the tribe’s opposition and whether legally required consultation with the tribe has occurred, PSCAA and PSE declined to comment.

The Puyallup Tribe of Indians rejects the flawed findings in the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) published today by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. By finding that an 8 million gallon fossil fuel project with fuel shipped from hundreds of miles away, would not cause significant adverse climate impacts, this project strains credulity. 

“Puget Sound Energy’s fracked gas project is sited on our homeland in an area we have inhabited since time immemorial, and where many of our tribal members live today,” said Chairman Bill Sterud. “It is a direct threat to our well-being and our way of life.”

Today’s FSEIS does not address the absence of legally required consultation with the Tribe. From the beginning, the Puyallup Tribe has been systematically ignored by Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and the government agencies responsible for reviewing the project, in blatant violation of their legal obligations. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency was delegated its authority from the US Clean Air Act and from Washington State’s authority under that Act. The obligation to consult with the Tribe held by both the federal government and the State of Washington was delegated to the Clean Air Agency, yet it has not conducted meaningful consultation with the Tribe.  

Today’s FSEIS document does not address the project’s many safety risks. PSE’s fracked gas LNG facility is clearly unsafe, for both the people of Tacoma and the global climate. PSE fought the release of the safety, fire, and siting studies until a year or more after the final EIS was issued, which was well after comments were allowed on the analysis. The Tribe had provided permitting authorities with safety concerns identified by an expert, but received no response from the State or City. 

Today’s FSEIS document does not address all the changes made to the project after it was subjected to environmental review. The Puyallup Tribe has documented no fewer than seven major alterations to the project since the draft EIS was conductedchanges that have happened without our review, input, or agreement. In fact, the FSEIS relies on several of these substantial changes to make its determination, finding a net benefit for greenhouse gases emissions if gas for the project is sourced from western Canada. These changes should be addressed in a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement as required under the law by the City of Tacoma or the State of Washington or both.

The FSEIS published today wrongly concludes that the project would not be harmful, based on outdated assumptions, limited scope and flawed methodology – errors that were pointed out during the public comment period. Fracked gas infrastructure like Tacoma LNG is far more harmful than previously thought because climate-damaging methane leaks are so prevalent and because fracking drives so much gas production today.

“Today, we call on Governor Inslee and the Washington Department of Ecology to initiate a supplemental review. On behalf of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians,” said Sterud. “We demand a legitimate review that honors the Tribe’s legal rights to consultation, that evaluates the many changes to the project, and that fairly weighs the science of methane leaks from fracked gas infrastructure.

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