science environment

Study: Proposed Kalama Methanol Refinery Won't Increase Global Emissions

By Monica Samayoa (OPB)
Portland, Ore. Aug. 31, 2019 12:36 a.m.

A new report says a proposed methanol refinery in southwest Washington will not impact global greenhouse gas emissions, but local environmentalists worry the report downplays the climate impact in the state.

The report released Friday by the Port of Kalama and Cowlitz County examined the plant's construction, operations and broader environmental impacts, concluding it will not adversely impact global climate change, as the plant would supply Asian markets with less-carbon polluting fuel and mitigate 100% of greenhouse gas emissions that occur in Washington.


"The science and facts laid out today make a clear and convincing case that our project in Kalama will result in a significant net reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions," chief development officer for Northwest Innovation Works Vee Godley said in a statement. "Regulators called for a comprehensive review of our actual and potential emissions, and this independent analysis delivers those results."


The report estimates the project will reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10 million metric tons per year, which is roughly the equivalent of taking more than 2 million cars off the road per year.

Local environmentalists are not convinced.

“So what’s interesting about today’s analysis that they released is that it fundamentally failed to address the issues that the state of Washington has already raised about their environmental review,” Columbia Riverkeeper conservation director Dan Serres said.

Last January, OPB obtained documents that showed Northwest Innovation Works is misleading state regulators while telling potential investors its intent is to burn their methanol for fuel in China.

“It’s really going to fall on the state of Washington and the Department of Ecology to evaluate where this meets with Washington’s greenhouse gas reductions goals, its clean energy goals and from our perspective it’s clear that it doesn’t,” Serres said.

The Washington Department of Ecology will now review the report and decide whether the project will move forward.