Tacoma’s Puget Sound will be the new home of a Liquefied Natural Gas plant — projected to be fully functional by the end of 2019.
Puget Sound Energy continues the construction of the LNG plant in the Port of Tacoma. Costing an estimated $310 million, the plant is an enormous project. PSE’s website provides information claiming that the goal is to switch from “dirty bunker fuel” to LNG.
The main use of the LNG facility would be to fuel ships travelling in and out of the port, while also providing gas for commercial and residential customers during high demand time intervals. Liquefied natural gas is, as the name suggests, a liquid form of the same natural gas that is predominantly used in houses and vehicles. PSE projects that the LNG plant will help to cut nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions by 90 percent, and carbon dioxide emissions by 35 percent.
PSE’s public project overview outlines the intention to reduce carbon emissions on a global scale and spark the local economy. In spite of this, there has been a great level of resistance from many residents of Tacoma and the Puyallup Tribe.
PSE’s director of communications, Grant Ringel, speaks on behalf of the potential costs and benefits that come along with the LNG plant.
“The benefits fall in two categories primarily, the first is environmental and the second is cost for PSE’S natural gas customers and cost savings for those customers,” Ringel said. “Liquified natural gas today is the cleanest maritime fuel available and the environmental benefits for the air is that LNG emittis 30 percent less carbon dioxide and over 95 percent fewer particulates (particle pollution) than bunker fuel.”
PSE also released information calculating that the LNG plant would produce 39.6 tons of toxic air pollutants and 20,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year.
Safety is one of the main concerns in the public’s mind when considering the LNG plant. Ringel explained this concern is “not only for our workers but for the community and our neighbors of the Port.”
In regard to the public concern of the new LNG plant, he explained that misinformation due to social media has arose such as “absurd notions about a three mile blast range.” Ringel claims that these notions have been made up and are completely untrue.
In response to the public’s concern about the project having proper permitting Ringel says, The permitting process is continuous over the duration of the project. They will be getting permits up until the very end of the project in 2019. No project of this size has all of its permits in hand before it starts work,” Ringel said. The Port of Tacoma has updated their website with a list of the Permits and approvals PSE has for the LNG plant.
The Puyallup Tribe issued a statement to the Seattle Times that they are against the site of the LNG plant and consider it a threat to their land and people. Puyallup Tribal Council member Annette Bryan tells the Seattle Times that the tribe was not properly consulted about the project. Amidst these concerns, Tribal members and environmentalists protested and blockaded the entrance to the plant on several occasions during December 2017. The Puyallup Tribe believes it is not too late for people who wish to stand with the tribe. Anyone can sign the Puyallup Water Warriors & Redefine Tacoma petition at change.org to support the tribe and the environment. This petition aims to bring awareness of public disapproval, in the hope that Gov. Jay Inslee will take action against the plant.
While there is debate on whether or not the Liquefied Natural Gas plant has higher costs or benefits, the project’s finish time will be in the end of 2019, which gives the people of Tacoma time to research the plant and form their own stance regarding the site.
Alyssa majors in urban studies and community development. She is interested in and concerned about issues in Tacoma that impact the community. She is obsessed with all things chocolate and piggies.