Gas utility will pay industrial energy development by charging ratepayers more
By TRIBAL NEWS STAFF
Commencement Bay’s shoreline will likely soon be home to a liquified gas (LNG) complex – that will create risks for the Tacoma community, the Salish Sea and the global climate. The project has been inching its way forward for several years, and is now in the final stages of approval by regulatory agencies with public comment on the project allowed up until September 9.
The LNG project is designed to deliver fracked gas through Tacoma to an industrial facility situated between the Blair and Hylebos Waterways. Once there, the gas will be super-cooled and pressurized into a liquid state, known as LNG, and then used as a fuel for ships or sold to other customers in the region. The greater Tacoma community will have to deal with risks associated with yet another gas pipeline through the city, hazardous maritime fueling operations near local homes and businesses, and pollution from a new major industrial site in the Tide flats.
The LNG facility is a design of Puget Sound Energy (PSE), a Western Washington gas and electric utility owned by foreign investment groups. Tacoma LNG is expensive and will cost more than a quarter-billion dollars to build. Much of the cost will be paid by the utility customers in the form
of price increases, for many homes and small business throughout Pierce County. According to an analysis by the Sierra Club, local ratepayers may be able to use about 2 percent of the gas from the project for home heating, but they are expected to cover 46 percent of the cost in the form of higher prices on their utility bills.
LNG is dangerous. A similar LNG facility in rural Eastern Washington exploded in 2014 with a blast so powerful it was felt six miles away. It sent shrapnel flying, injured workers, and polluted the region.Siting an LNG facility in an urban area like Tacoma is uncommon practice for the industry because it is known to be risky. Local advocates opposing the project have pointed out that the company hid safety studies from the public and regulators until key approval deadlines had passed.
The LNG facility is under construction on the ancestral homeland of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, in an area that remains important to our economy and culture.Yet, the Tribe was never consulted about this dangerous project on our homeland—not by PSE, not by the City of Tacoma and not by any of the government agencies charged with reviewing the project proposal.
The Puyallup Tribe is one of 18 Washington tribes that are opposing the project, joined by 18 human and civil rights groups, in addition to dozens of local and statewide environmental organizations.
The last hurdle for the project is a single permit from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA), a regional government agency charged with limiting pollution in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish Counties. In July, PSCAA released a preliminary determination to issue permits for Tacoma LNG. The determination was widely criticized by opponents for using outdated assumptions and awed science. This final permit, known as the Notice of Construction Application, will be decided in early September.