Saturday, September 18, 2021

Play

Hundreds of wealthy Americans back the Biden Build Back Better Act; Roger Stone is served with a warrant on live radio; and family caregivers are in need of assistance.

Play

Virginia gubernatorial candidates debate; former federal prosecutor Michael Sussmann indicted for lying to FBI; lawmakers set to question oil industry over climate disinformation; and FDA scientists express skepticism over booster shots.

Play

Lawsuits stall debt relief for America's Black farmers; Idaho hospitals using "critical care" protocols; grant money boosts rural towns in Utah and more conservation acreage could protect the iconic sage grouse.

Political Muscle, Money Driving Forces for WA Methanol Project

Play

Monday, December 21, 2020   

KALAMA, Wash. -- High-level politicians are entangled in the push for a massive fossil fuel facility in Washington state.

Eric de Place, director of the nonprofit Sightline Institute's Thin Green Line program, said political muscle and money are the driving force for the natural gas refinery and export facility planned for Kalama, along the Columbia River.

"You've got some local officials, including one person, Richard DeBolt, who is simultaneously a state legislator representing Kalama and also on the company's payroll as an employee, so really setting up some potential conflicts of interest," de Place said.

Northwest Innovation Works, a company backed by the Chinese government, is pushing the project forward. Kalama would be the landing point for natural gas from Canada, where it would be refined into methanol and exported to China.

The company says allegations of impropriety are "meritless" and it has followed state guidance to avoid any conflicts of interest. Rep. DeBolt did not respond to a request for comment.

De Place noted a number of other politicians are backing the project, including Gary Locke, the former Democratic governor of Washington and U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Barack Obama. Locke was named chair of Northwest Innovation Works' global advisory board in 2016.

The company has also received tax dollars from the state and federal governments. De Place said its parent company, Pan Pacific Energy, received between $150,000 and $350,000 in CARES Act loans this year.

"What they have been doing at the same time, even though they've been getting these taxpayer subsidies, is spending money on lobbyists in Olympia," De Place said. "It looks like they've been hiring some other strategists to help them advance their cause. And then they've been pouring money into candidate races."

He noted Gov. Jay Inslee withdrew his support for the project in 2019 because of its contribution to climate change. De Place said Washingtonians shouldn't have to accept the style of politics that has pushed the plan forward.

"It's up to the Northwest to say we want a fair and unbiased review process for a project like this that is not subject to political influence, where you can't buy your way into approval, and where the public has just as much a voice as any senior government official who's taken a job with the company," he said.

Northwest Innovation Works says the Kalama project is good for the environment and represents the single-largest opportunity for the state to be a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Disclosure: Sightline Institute contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Energy Policy, Sustainable Agriculture, Urban Planning/Transportation. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
A panel of House Democrats proposes raising $2.9 trillion in new taxes to pay for President Joe Biden's "Build Back Better" plan through higher tax rates for wealthy Americans. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

RICHMOND, Va. - As U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., takes heat this week for attending a posh fundraiser in a dress that said "Tax the …


Environment

EAST TROY, Wis. - Wisconsin farmers are looking ahead to the fall harvest, and those who use cover crops face a deadline to sign up for a research …

Social Issues

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The pandemic is shining a new light on the burdens felt by family caregivers, and a bill in Congress would remove some of the …


Republican lawmakers across the country have proposed legislation to limit or forbid the teaching of such concepts as racial equity and white privilege. (Kelly Lacy/Pexels)

Social Issues

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, is lashing out against the idea of Critical Race Theory, filing a bill to ban its use in all …

Social Issues

PORTLAND, Ore. - Wealthy Americans have a message for Congress: Tax us more. More than 200 high-income taxpayers and business owners have sent an …

Better flood resiliency is top of mind in New York, after scenes like the Long Island Expressway's partial shutdown in Tropical Storm Ida. But who will pay for it? (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

ALBANY, N.Y. - As a U.S. House committee debates the Biden administration's "Build Back Better" Act, a letter from more than 200 wealthy Americans …

Social Issues

By Sonali Kolhatkar for Yes! Media. Broadcast version by Lily Bohlke for Commonwealth News Service reporting for the YES! Media-Public News Service …

Environment

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Three New Hampshire professors are among those who've signed a letter urging the United Nations General Assembly to adopt what's …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021