Stand with the Puyallup Tribe - No LNG Fracked Gas in the Salish Sea!
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TO: Governor Jay Inslee, Washington State Office of the Attorney General, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 10, Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE), Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA)
We stand with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians in their request for your IMMEDIATE ACTION to stop all construction on the proposed Puget Sound Energy (PSE) Tacoma LNG project.
PSE's proposed 8 million gallon LNG facility would lock citizens into 50 years of burning fracked gas and accelerated global warming. Once billed as a "bridge fuel", natural gas is now recognized as a powerful contributor to climate change. Organizations ranging from the Sierra Club to the NAACP have publicly opposed natural gas as an energy source for the future. PSE's proposed LNG facility creates an immediate and unreasonable danger to thousands of Pierce County residents within three (3) miles of the massive storage tank. The LNG facility would require a steady supply of fracked gas from offsite wells that are built in communities that are not even identified as part of the project. Washington residents will be exposed to toxins and carcinogens used in the fracking, transporting, and cryogenic processes.
As the world rallies behind the Paris Climate Change Accord that the current President has rejected, Tacoma faces the threat of becoming the fossil fuel dumping ground for the West Coast. The people of Tacoma, Fife, the Puyallup Tribe and Pierce County do not wish to be the common denominator for fossil fuels, volatile gas storage, carcinogens and more pollution. Our families and our children deserve better.
United against this unprecedented threat, we Petition our government for help against the grave environmental and social dangers that the proposed PSE LNG project presents.
On a legal front, we ask that the State Attorney General review the SEPA environmental review process for the project, the many requests for a supplemental EIS that have been made, and the lawsuits that have been filed and will be filed for the failings that have thus far occurred, including:
1. Illicit Lead Agency Transfer. At the request of PSE, WDOE transferred lead agency review status to the City of Tacoma, despite the fact that the City lacked the resources to serve as lead agency and despite the obvious conflict of interest. The City stands to make millions of dollars per year -see EIS- from the siting and operations of this facility in the Port of Tacoma. WDOE also did not obtain lead agency transfer approval from the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, a Sovereign Nation, in breach of the existing Treaty.
2. Insufficient EIS. Despite the conflict of interest and the underwhelming resources, the City of Tacoma accepted the appointment and conducted an inadequate EIS that did not meet the legal standards for environmental protection, human safety, or consideration of alternatives. The City’s response? That it did not need to consider such things as greenhouse gas emissions, or alternatives sitings, or any other alternatives (such as a 2.5 million-gallon tank instead of an 8 million gallon one) than what was being proposed by PSE because PSE would simply not move forward with the project. As for safety, the City chose not to evaluate a “material breach” of the facility and the grave danger that it would pose to the surrounding community. Such an omission represents a grave failure. The LNG facility is being built on unstable fill, just above water level, on a geologic fault, in the lahar zone of Mount Rainier. Tsunamis and sea level rise were not evaluated, yet they are a real threat in our region. The consequences of an event could (and likely would) result in death and injury to thousands of people.
3. Environmental Toxins and Greenhouse Gases. The project is sited on and near multiple Superfund sites, putting the community and Salish Sea at risk of exposure to deadly toxins. Communities where future fracking wells are placed will be exposed to carcinogens and toxins from the fracking well chemicals. Fracking wells are also linked to increased earthquake activity. The project will contribute to very large emissions of greenhouse gases from fracking well leaks that have been proven to be much greater than expected. These huge leaks make fracking gas much worse than other fossil fuels and will accelerate climate change.
4. Illegal Commercial Subsidy. LNG prices have fallen from $15 per 1,000 cubic feet to $5 since the project was proposed. PSE can still make a profit on this disastrous project because the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) is allowing them to pass 43% of the estimated capital costs ($133 million of $310 million) on to PSE ratepayers, yet the ratepayers are slated to receive only 7% of the usage. PSE will make a profit on a project that is not financially feasible and the public will be saddled with an environmental disaster. The ratepayers will not benefit from this alleged “peak shaving” facility for at least 25 years if ever, since PSE already has abundant capacity for natural gas storage at its Jackson Prairie site in Lewis County. Of course, if the LNG facility were to be built, it would create a need for more natural gas from off-site fracking wells, creating an artificial demand. Asking ratepayers to pay more for their natural gas because PSE is engaging in a commercial enterprise for profit is not fair to the ratepayers. And, allowing PSE to profit off the ratepayers by being permitted to consistently and continuously sell 93%-100% of the available LNG on an unregulated market without a credit back to the ratepayers for the gas they subsidized is not only inequitable, but downright illegal.
We stand on the edge of global environmental catastrophe. Massive climate change disasters are destroying cities and communities across the globe. Three hurricanes have blasted the Caribbean, and two earthquakes caused major damage to Mexico City. We are all stunned at the intensity, frequency, and devastation of these disasters. Historic forest fires have burned hundreds of thousands of acres all over the west, the Pacific Northwest, and Canada. During this time, Tacoma had the worst air quality on the planet. Our Salish Sea is suffering from decades of poisons and our keystone salmon and Orca families are pushed to the brink of extinction. This past week another Orca died of starvation, bringing the count of the southern resident Orcas in the Pacific Northwest down to 76. Fisheries biologists report that at the current rate of decline, within four years, there will be no salmon passing through Commencement Bay.
The Indigenous Tribes and Nations have been following centuries old teachings for the ways to respect and nourish this land. They have been stewards for thousands of years and are inviting us to listen and heed their words for the best ways forward in caring for all life here. We must learn to protect and heal our planet and we must do it now. We cannot allow toxic, dangerous fossil fuel projects like the proposed Tacoma LNG facility to be rammed through in violation of Indigenous sovereignty, treaty rights, wisdom, and in violation of our environmental laws.
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians has appealed the federal and state permits for the proposed PSE Tacoma LNG facility and on August 30, 2017, the Tribe wrote letters to you and your agencies requesting you take immediate Enforcement Action. We stand with the Puyallup Tribe in their urgent request to you. We need your intervention to protect our health and safety, our environment, and the Salish Sea from this dangerous project. We ask that you and your agencies take the following actions:
1. Immediately issue a Stop Work order for all construction work on the PSE LNG facility and pipelines, in-water, in shoreline, and landward.
2. Revoke and then re-evaluate the Clean Water Act (CWA) permit, the WDOE Coastal Zone Management (CZM) concurrence, and the City of Tacoma Shoreline approval.
3. Deny issuance of a PSCAA NOC, pending re-evaluation of the above permits.
4. Conduct a legal review of the SEPA process for conflict of interest, failure to consult, failure to adequately identify potential impacts of the project, and failure to address all components of the project. Require the environmental review process be redone with a new lead agency that is free of conflict of interest.
The Puyallup Tribe letter of August 30 details multiple permit violations and massive deficiencies in the project permitting process. The immediate violation is simple: PSE has been conducting in-water work for the proposed Tacoma LNG project without meeting the Conditions required for the CWA permit and CZM. Obtaining Notice of Construction (NOC) permits from Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) is a required condition for these two permits. This is a direct violation of the CWA permit and the CZM concurrence and renders the permits invalid.
The review process for the project is marked by conflict of interests, failure to consult with the Puyallup Tribe, failure to seek meaningful public input, and huge failures to quantify the impacts of the project. In addition, the project has changed significantly since the EIS was written. Despite dozens of different requests for a Supplemental EIS, the City failed to act while at the same time PSE accelerates its construction to try and build before being stopped.
We need to retire fossil fuel projects, not build new ones. We need to replace them with sustainable alternative energy projects. Under great public pressure from Indigenous nations and local communities, investors have abandoned the proposed Coos Bay LNG project and the BC LNG project. The proposed Kalama methanol refinery was just denied approvals based on the failure of the EIS to address greenhouse gases. These were bad projects, destructive to the environment and the future of the planet. The proposed Tacoma LNG project is even worse as it is unreasonably dangerous to the surrounding community. We cannot allow it to be built.
“Yehow” is a Coastal Salish word translated to English meaning “that which can only be done together”. We can recover our environment and our Salish Sea only if we do it together.
We need your help as leaders and environmental stewards. We ask you to issue a Stop Work order on the PSE LNG facility, and revoke and re-evaluate all issued permits and approvals on behalf of the request of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, the citizens of Tacoma, Pierce County, and the Pacific Northwest, and the animals and fish of the Salish Sea.
Conditional Permits to Be Revoked and Re-evaluated:
- SEPA FEIS-SEP2014-4000230810
- US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Permit No. NWS-2014-1128-WRD
- Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE) Coastal Zone Consistency Determination
- City of Tacoma Shoreline Application No. SHR2015-40000246123
- PSCAA Registration No. 3022; NOC Application No. 11386
Stand with the Puyallup Tribe - No LNG Fracked Gas in the Salish Sea!
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