Climate activists rallied on the Capitol steps in Olympia on Thursday and delivered boxes containing nearly 150,000 written comments to Gov. Jay Inslee.
They're urging him to reject proposals for fracked gas infrastructure in Washington, including two projects already underway, in Tacoma and Kalama.
“Stop LNG, Inslee! Focus on Clean Energy!” chanted the demonstrators amid an array of anti-fracking banners and signs. They were brought together by organizations including the Sierra Club, 350 Seattle and a new youth climate activist group called Sunrise Washington.
They called on Inslee to live up to his reputation as a "green" governor and his clean-energy campaign pledges by taking energy projects involving fracked gas off the table.
LNG refers to liquid natural gas. Community groups and the Puyallup tribe are fighting a new LNG facility being built in Tacoma by Puget Sound Energy. The utility says it will provide a cleaner fuel alternative for local transportation companies, especially in the maritime sector where burning dirty bunker fuels are the norm.
For years, natural gas was marketed as a cleaner "bridge" fuel that could help communities wean themselves off of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil. Now, activists warn that methane leaks associated with natural gas often add up to climate-warming emissions that are even worse — especially when the gas is extracted using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas.
ACCOUNTING FOR EMISSIONS
At the rally, state Rep. Gerry Pollet, a Democrat from Seattle’s 46th District, made a plea for a bill he is sponsoring that would require agencies to take all greenhouse gas emissions into account when approving natural gas projects.
“How much methane — which is a horrible destroyer of our climate and atmosphere — how much methane is released when you start exporting from one terminal in Washington? How much are you releasing when you frack along the Rocky Mountains?” he asked.
“How much is released as you transport it? How much is released as it gets transferred? We should know that. And we should not be facilitators of a global addiction to fossil fuels."
Sally Keely came with several others from the Colombia River community of Kalama — where a huge refinery is planned to turn liquid natural gas into methanol.
“Fracked gas is not a bridge fuel to a good climate, it’s a bridge fuel to climate crisis,” she said. “And Gov. Inslee I know originally supported this project in 2014, but we’ve all learned a lot in that time. And now it’s time for him to come out publicly, vehemently against all fracked gas in our state.”
Inslee's office said in an emailed statement that the governor has consistently supported thorough and objective environmental reviews of major energy infrastructure projects in the state. The statement also underscored a need for multiple technologies and strategies, such as Inslee's Clean Air Rule and Clean Energy Fund, to transition to a clean-energy future.
"Our state has some of the most rigorous air and water standards in the nation," Tara Lee, deputy communications director, wrote. "For more than a decade (Inslee) has been an aggressive proponent of decarbonizing our economy and transitioning to clean energy technologies."