The council’s resolution says climate change is a threat to people everywhere in the world and a vital concern for people in Seattle.
The Seattle City Council is deeply concerned by the siting of a new liquefied natural-gas plant in Tacoma, says a resolution that passed by unanimous vote Monday.
The resolution also says the council wants the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) to work more closely with area tribes on matters related to the facility.
Puyallup tribal members and other environmental activists have led protests against the $310 million plant that Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is building on the Tacoma Tideflats, which would process natural gas, including gas extracted through fracking.
Supported by the National Congress of American Indians, the tribe says it wasn’t meaningfully consulted about a project that threatens its lands, waters and people, and activists have warned about the risks of an explosion.
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PSE says its plant will help provide cleaner-burning fuel for the maritime industry, but opponents say that fracking causes environmental damage and that PSE shouldn’t invest in new fossil-fuel infrastructure at a time of increased concerns about climate change.
Though the Tacoma site is 30 miles from Seattle, council members Kshama Sawant and Debora Juarez, who sponsored Monday’s resolution, said it was important for the Pacific Northwest’s largest city to weigh in on an issue of regional importance.
“Natural gas, like other fossil fuels, emits carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change when used as a fuel source, ” the resolution says.
“And leaks along the natural-gas supply chain emit methane, a gas with 86 times the global-warming potential of carbon dioxide, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
Under an initial version of the resolution introduced by Sawant this past month, the council would have opposed the plant outright and urged the PSCAA to reject PSE’s permit application. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan sits on PSCAA’s board of directors.
The council referred the resolution to Juarez’s civic development, public assets and native-communities committee for additional work, which resulted in a new version focused on advocating for tribal involvement.
On Monday, Sawant sought to strike positive language about natural gas that had been added to the resolution and to restore the council’s direct opposition to the plant.
Both amendments failed. Only council members Mike O’Brien and Lisa Herbold supported Sawant in the first case, and only O’Brien supported her in the second.
Council members Sally Bagshaw and Teresa Mosqueda were absent.
In a statement, Puyallup Chairman Bill Sterud thanked the council “for standing with us against this dangerous facility that threatens our culture and livelihood” and said the tribe hopes Tacoma’s city leaders will follow suit.
The approved resolution says the PSCAA should engage in a government-to-government relationship with tribes on matters related to PSE’s application and should collaborate with regional leaders to address the growing impacts of climate change.
The resolution also says the PSCAA should promote investments in clean energy and should examine fracking in an extra environmental review of PSE’s project.
Juarez, who grew up on the Puyallup Reservation and is a member of the Blackfeet Nation, said the council’s work included “careful crafting and consensus building with the Puyallup Tribe.”
“I am honored the Seattle City Council has passed a resolution … that pays respect to the Puyallup Tribe’s sovereignty and urges PSCAA to improve its tribal consultation practices and make deeper investments in clean energy,” she said in a statement.