The state Department of Ecology has denied a request for a shoreline permit required to build a $2 billion Kalama methanol plant that would export the chemical to China.
The permit rejection is a serious setback for a project that would be one of the Pacific Northwest’s largest industrial users of natural gas — the feedstock for methanol — and has generated intense controversy since first proposed back in 2014.
Critics have attacked the NW Innovation Works project as a major new source of Pacific Northwest greenhouse gas emissions that would pollute for decades into a future when the imperatives of climate change call for cutting back such pollution.
And Laura Watson, the director of the Ecology Department, cited greenhouse gas emissions from the plant as a reason for rejecting the permit.
“I want to be very clear that a project that would increase greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 5 million (metric) tons annually would not benefit the environment …” Watson said. “At most, this project would be less harmful than potential alternatives.”
The plant’s developers have said the project would help displace coal-based methanol in China that produces far more carbon emissions per gallon of product, and thus would be a net benefit in the global struggle to curb this pollution.