Washington must stop permitting new fossil-fuel infrastructure.
The United States has passed Russia and Saudi Arabia as the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world. As a result, we are seeing an onslaught of proposals to export fossil fuels and petrochemicals through the Northwest.
It is no longer enough for Washington leaders to focus on reducing demand for fossil fuels through state policies. Washington must stop permitting new fossil-fuel infrastructure.
Building new pipelines, refineries and export terminals will lock us into decades of fossil-fuel use, which our climate cannot afford. We urge Gov. Jay Inslee to reject new fossil-fuel projects, including the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery proposed in Kalama.
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Inslee carries the message and the mantle of climate leadership to a national audience, and his passion and commitment to the issue are obvious and robust. Today, Inslee can bend down the arc of fossil-fuel production and promote clean energy by rejecting projects that spur new oil and gas fracking.
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Oil Change International recently released a report, “Drilling Towards Disaster,” which highlights a sober truth: the oil and gas industry plans to unleash a burst of new carbon emissions between now and 2050 at an unprecedented scale. While the world must rapidly decarbonize to avoid runaway climate disaster, the United States is increasing oil and gas extraction.
The good news? Inslee and the Washington Department of Ecology can stand up to the oil and gas industry’s plans to use the Northwest as an export hub for fossil fuels by denying pending permits for the proposed methanol refinery in Kalama.
Backed by the Chinese government, the refinery would consume 320 million cubic feet of fracked gas per day, more than all other industrial or residential uses in Washington combined. The developer says we need methanol to make more plastic or to burn as a fuel in Asia. The proposal’s staggering gas use will spur more fracking and new pipeline development in Washington, and contribute to spiking methane emissions that pose a potent threat to our climate.
We have seen what strong climate leadership looks like in Washington. In 2018, Inslee stood up to the oil industry by denying the continent’s largest proposed oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver, Washington. In recent days, the governor made strong statements in opposition to the TransMountain tar sands pipeline proposed in British Columbia. (On Friday, Canada’s National Energy Board recommended approval of the pipeline despite environmental and First Nations’ concerns.)
Last week, the Power Past Fracked Gas coalition delivered more than 100,000 public comments to Inslee calling on him to reject new fracked gas projects in Washington.
And King County passed a moratorium on new fossil-fuel infrastructure.
These are the sorts of hard but necessary decisions climate leaders are called to make.
Under Inslee’s leadership, Washington has taken important strides on climate action. Here, with the Kalama methanol refinery, he faces an important decision. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that we have 12 short years to set a new course for our economy and climate or face debilitating consequences for our region. Accepting and winning this challenge requires that we choose an innovative, clean path forward and reject a new generation of dirty fossil-fuel projects, starting today.