The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) has responded to issues that attorneys representing the Puyallup Tribe have raised concerning Puget Sound Energy’s compliance with permit procedures for its liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on the Tacoma tideflats. This past August, tribal lawyers sent a letter to PSCAA requesting that the agency cite PSE and the Port of Tacoma and issue a stop-work order on the project since PSE was working without a permit on the controversial LNG storage facility.
In their reply letter to the tribal lawyers, PSCAA stated that it did issue a Notice of Violation to PSE this past April for failure to obtain a Notice of Construction approval prior to construction. However, this notice did not halt the LNG project but rather required PSE to respond to the notice by either 1.) submitting a written report describing the actions PSE has taken to correct the violation and achieve compliance with PSCAA regulations, or 2.) submitting a complete Notice of Construction application with the agency.
In reply, PSE said that it did not violate PSCAA’s requirements and requested that the agency withdraw the Notice of Violation. PSE contends that initial ground improvements, laying pipes, grading and clearing the LNG site area are not in violation of the agency’s regulations since none of these things emit air pollutants that would involve PSCAA. In its reply letter to tribal attorneys, the agency stated that it has not withdrawn its Notice of Violation and that it remains open for further enforcement. The letter also stated that these current circumstances do not merit an order by PSCAA to stop construction but could result in civil penalties if PSE fails to comply.
Puyallup Chairman Bill Sterud said he is disappointed that PSCAA would allow PSE to work at the LNG site without proper permits and only choose to fine them rather than enforce more serious ramifications.
“The Puyallup Tribe of Indians cannot accept that the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency continues to allow construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facility near our reservation,” the Chairman said. “Installing an 8 million gallon facility to store volatile LNG fuel, Puget Sound Energy must be required to follow all permitting processes as by law ensuring that the City of Tacoma and its residents are safe. Such a large facility located in a densely populated area with a possibility of a major catastrophe is not only unacceptable for our entire tribal membership, but for all of the people in this region.”