The Puyallup Tribe of Indians
December 10, 2019
Statement from the Puyallup Tribal Council regarding the LNG project
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians is disappointed in Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s decision to approve a permit for Puget Sound Energy’s liquefied natural gas project. We are reviewing the determination and will take appropriate actions.
From the beginning, PSE engaged in a deceptive marketing campaign of promoting LNG as a soundbite-friendly “transition fuel.” PSE originally proposed Tacoma LNG as primarily a storage facility that would help meet peak demand for natural gas in the winter for heating needs. Since that time, however, there have been two major developments: (1) PSE drastically reduced the end-use LNG from the project to meet peak shaving needs; and (2) Washington enacted SB-5116, requiring utilities like PSE to rapidly decarbonize their energy mix. This substantial change to the project and new legislation indicate that Tacoma LNG simply is not needed for the very reason PSE proposed it: peak-shaving. The changes to the facility have escaped environmental review and the facility as now proposed has positioned Tacoma as a dangerous fossil fuel anchor holding us back from a sustainable future.
The simplistic claims of a “transition fuel” are alluring. But from fracking to pipelines to storage as LNG, methane is a dangerous threat. It is a powerful greenhouse gas that leaks into the atmosphere, and LNG presents a danger to people living near it should anything go wrong.
To date, no state or federal agency has reviewed the safety of this project and the impacts a catastrophic event would have on the surrounding communities, including the Puyallup Tribe’s member population. No determination has been made as to whether the public will be safe if a catastrophic accident at this facility similar to the one in Plymouth, Washington in 2014 occurs. It is unacceptable that there has been no oversight for this project to review the substantial dangers to the Tribe and the City of Tacoma.
Beyond the grave safety risks of explosion hazards, Tacoma LNG would also expose inhabitants of the South Sound to hazardous and toxic air pollutant emissions, adding to the pollution burden in an already heavily burdened area. It is disappointing that PSCAA has decided to issue a permit without first analyzing the environmental justice impacts that Tacoma LNG would cause.
Dozens of environmental and social justice groups that have stood with the Tribe during our fight against Tacoma LNG, including our own Water Warriors, understand this. Eighteen tribes in Washington understand this. The City of Tacoma’s own Human Right Commission understands this. The research center Sightline Institute understands this and has sounded the alarm for years.
As Governor Inslee pointed out months ago, we do not have the luxury of time in addressing the climate crisis. It is real, it is here, and we cannot build new fossil fuel infrastructure that will operate for decades to come.
This morning, the Puyallup Tribal Council took the extraordinary step of declaring a climate emergency. It is no small irony that one of the greatest regional threats to our climate won approval by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency on the same day.
PSE’s motivations are easy to understand: Follow the money back to its investors. PSCAA’s action today is more difficult to understand. It has not engaged in meaningful consultation with the Tribe and insists there is no “specific legal authority” that would permit it to engage in consultation, despite the fact that its power is delegated from the state of Washington and the federal government. Some of its own board members have stood up for the Tribe and pressed for a better response, to no avail.
Today’s decision is a moral failure on PSCAA’s part. It is an insult to residents. It is an insult to the Tribe. To the state of Washington and the City of Tacoma: Step up. Do the right thing. Honor the people who live here. Begin a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement as required by law.
About the Puyallup Tribe of IndiansThe Puyallup People have lived along the shores of what is now called Puget Sound for thousands of years. The Puyallup Tribe of Indians is a sovereign nation of more than 5,000 members and one of the largest employers in Pierce County. It serves its people and neighbors with generosity and is committed to building a sustainable way of life for future generations. Learn more about the Puyallup Tribe.
About the Puyallup Tribal CouncilThe Puyallup Tribal Council is the elected governing body of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. The council consists of Chairman David Z. Bean, Vice Chairman Bill Sterud, Sylvia Miller, Tim Reynon, Annette Bryan, James Rideout and Anna Bean.
Contact:Michael Thompson, Communications Director, Puyallup Tribe of Indians, (253) 382-6200; [email protected]