Making sense of the environmental protest against an LNG plant in Tacoma

A sign in Tacoma from 2017 opposes a planned Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant proposed by the power utility, Puget Sound Energy. KVI's John Carlson examines the possible objections to the LNG plant and why approving it could reduce a lot of CO2 emissions that environmental protesters are normally against. Hearings in Tacoma on August 27, 2019 were held to take public input on the proposed site. (photo: KOMO News)

"When you substitute drum circles for scientific analysis, I mean that says everything you need to know about the people who are opposing this," says Washington Policy Center's environmental policy director, Todd Myers, about a protest against a planned Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant to be cited on the Tacoma tideflats industrial area.

Puget Sound Energy is proposing the LNG plant, which would use cleaner burning natural gas to reduce carbon emissions. Governor Jay Inslee initially supported this LNG plant in Tacoma but then reversed his view in May--just three months ago.

"Why aren't mainstream environmental groups stepping up and overshadowing the shrill voices on the environmental left," asks KVI's John Carlson during an interview with Myers who responded, "Because the environmental left is about primarily about posturing for the environment, not doing things that help (the environment)."

According to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, their scientific evaluation on an LNG plant would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by replacing one fossil fuel (bunker fuel) with a cleaner burning fossil fuel (liquefied natural gas).

However environmental protests groups, now aligned with Inslee, are protesting hearings in Tacoma this week to block the proposed LNG plant. The protesters don't seem to have an alternative plan, only that they want to block Puget Sound Energy's quest to use a cleaner burning fuel. That means the status quo would continue burning dirty fuel for the environment.

The News Tribune reports, the LNG plant would provide about 6-8 million gallons of LNG for local customers during peak winter demand. Puget Sound Energy says the site will help boost the reliability of the fuel supply for Western Washington.

Myers says, "If they (protesters including the Puyallup Tribe) try to kill this (LNG plant), right, if they can convince Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to ignore the science and ignore their own data, which shows that its good for the environment then they will end up with nothing. And we will continue to have carbon intensive polluting fuels in the ships in Puget Sound and that is utterly irresponsible. Its absolutely irresponsible, but that's not how 'we' (locally) make decisions in the environmental community. It is about posturing, not the environment."

To hear the entire interview with KVI's John Carlson and WPC's Todd Myers, click the image above.

Offbeat News