Today, the Port of Kalama filed a petition with the Cowlitz County Superior Court to prevent the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) from further delaying review of the Kalama Methanol Manufacturing and Export Facility. The petition for a constitutional writ of certiorari asks the court to order Ecology to cease preparation of an unnecessary second supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) on the Kalama Methanol Manufacturing and Export Facility and to comply with the timeline required by law. Under state statute Ecology was required to decide within 30 days of Cowlitz County’s (County) transmittal to Ecology on September 11, 2019.
“After a great deal of consideration of the options available, the Port reluctantly filed this action against Ecology. The existing environmental review of the project is more than adequate, exceeding all requirements and addressing all of Ecology’s comments and questions,” said Mark Wilson, Executive Director of the Port of Kalama. “The Port, the County and the project proponent, Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW) are entitled to have the existing documents reviewed and a decision made.”
The Port’s lawsuit outlines a variety of inconsistencies in Ecology’s standards:
• Treating the project’s shoreline permits as new applications and ignoring the permits that were in place and reinstated by order of the Cowlitz County Superior Court;
• Reversing course on what constitutes an adequate scope for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) impact analysis; and
• Calling a 100 percent Voluntary GHG Mitigation Program inadequate when they previously required only a 1.7 percent mitigation measure.
When Governor Inslee reversed his position about this project, he promised that his stance would not change the state’s regulatory process and objective review of this and similar projects. But now Ecology intends to conduct an unwarranted second SEIS at taxpayers’ expense, likely duplicating existing work and creating needless delay. Last week, the Governor’s budget request for Ecology included $600,000 of funding to “supplement” the SEIS. The size of this request creates questions around the intended scope of the review.
Wilson added, “Ecology cannot hide behind repeated calls for more analysis, when the comprehensive review that the Port and the County have completed in the SEIS and the 100 percent mitigation offered by NWIW exceeds anything ever done in the state—including anything ever done by Ecology. It’s time to decide.”