Kalama, WA (June 11, 2021) – Today Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW) notified the Port of Kalama it will terminate its lease, effectively ending efforts to develop a manufacturing plant that would have brought hundreds of short- and long-term family-wage jobs to Kalama. In addition to creating jobs, the facility would have provided an innovative approach to methanol production, reducing global dependence on products made from coal.
Port of Kalama officials point to the state’s regulatory and political environment for killing local, sustainable jobs just when the need is the greatest.
“This was the kind of innovative, job-creating project that originally was supported by the Governor’s office. Jay Inslee stood on Kalama’s waterfront to tout the climate benefits of the project, then turned on us when he ran for president,” said Port Director Mark Wilson.
All the state has accomplished is to encourage more severe greenhouse gas emissions outside the borders of Washington and declare a false climate victory.”
The proposed project would have:
- Created 1,400 construction jobs;
- Provided 200 permanent family-wage jobs;
- Contributed millions in local tax revenue to support schools, roads, and social services;
- Produced the cleanest methanol on the planet;
- Displaced Chinese production of coal-based methanol; and
- Reduced global greenhouse gas emissions using innovative technology.
The project aimed to convert natural gas into methanol for use in manufacturing plastic products like computers, clothing, plywood and medical devices. NWIW would have used a new technology to manufacture methanol, thereby meeting consumer needs while helping the world meet carbon-emission reduction targets. The state required an unprecedented series of environmental studies, all of which demonstrated a significant net reduction in global greenhouse gasses.
Randy Sweet, Port Commission President and accomplished environmental professional stated, “We’ve lost an opportunity to become a global showcase for innovation and environmentally conscious manufacturing in Washington. Unfortunately, this is part of a larger pattern of the unwillingness to listen to differing opinions and find common-sense, balanced solutions.”
The project was first announced in 2014, and the permitting process lasted seven years until now, when NWIW announced it would no longer move forward in Washington state. NWIW spent tens of millions addressing state agency permitting concerns, which shifted constantly over the course of the process.
Port officials are concerned about the broader implications for economic development and environmental protection.
Port Commissioner Troy Stariha added, “NWIW did everything right, and their understandable decision to pull out of this project is a real loss for families trying to make ends meet, the future of economic development in our state, and our environment. The project also would have been a huge revenue lift for schools, police, fire, roads and other services in our area. It is yet another lost opportunity in southwest Washington.”
“This project would have brought manufacturing jobs back to the US from China and significantly lowered a host of environmental impacts,” said Ted Sprague, President of the Cowlitz Economic Development Council. “The reduction in global greenhouse gases would have been greater than the GHG emissions of Seattle. If not a project with benefits like this, then what is good enough?”