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Liquefied natural gas plant in Tacoma gets OK from state pollution board

An industrial scene from the Port of Tacoma with a large gray cylinder in the forefront.
Parker Miles Blohm
KNKX file
A 14-story cylinder will store liquefied natural gas facility on the Tacoma Tideflats.

A Washington state energy utility’s liquefied natural gas facility in Tacoma has cleared another legal hurdle — this time getting a green light from the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board.

The News Tribune reports the board in a ruling Friday wrote that it “affirms the permit and supplemental environmental impact statement" for the Puget Sound Energy project.

But the board also added a condition in the permit to install a continuous emission monitoring system to monitor sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds emissions from the plant’s enclosed ground flare.

The Puyallup Tribe and environmental groups had filed challenges with the board against the facility. The 14-story-tall concrete cylinder, already built, would store 8 million gallons of gas at extremely cold temperatures for fueling ships and other uses, KUOW reported.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson have come out against the plant and its anticipated climate impacts.

Opponents appealing Puget Sound Clean Air Agency's approval of the LNG facility's construction application in 2019 had argued that the agency underestimated the volatile organic compounds, particulates, nitrogen and sulfur dioxides, and toxic air pollutants that the plant would emit. And they argued that the agency failed to formally consult with the government of the Puyallup Tribe.

In a statement after the ruling, the tribe said: “We are pleased that the board required detailed monitoring of certain emissions, and our legal and technical teams are evaluating what that means for future operations. However, we are profoundly disappointed the board upheld the remainder of the permit."

Andrew Padula, Puget Sound Energy media representative, said Monday the utility is glad to see the permit affirmed and are in the process of fully reviewing the ruling.

The liquefied natural gas "facility is critical to ensuring we can serve our customers on the coldest days of the year when demand on the system is at its peak. It also plays a key role in creating one of the greenest shipping fleets on the West Coast.”

As for an opening date, he said they are still in the process of commissioning the plant.

An attorney for the project’s opponents told KUOW Friday afternoon he was still reviewing the 99-page ruling, which can be appealed.

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