Monday, December 5, 2022

Play

A Louisiana Public Service Commission runoff could affect energy policy, LGBTQ advocates await final passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, and democracy gets a voter-approved overhaul in Oregon.

Play

An election law theory critics say could cause chaos is before the Supreme Court, lawmakers condemn former President Trump's idea to suspend the Constitution, and Democrats switch up the presidential primary calendar.

Play

The first-ever "trout-safe" certification goes to an Idaho fish farm, the Healthy Housing Initiative helps improve rural communities' livability, and if Oklahoma is calling to you, a new database makes it easier for buyers and builders to find available lots.

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
Small cell facilities are often attached to utility poles within the public right-of-way. (Oxford Science/Wikimedia Commons)

Social Issues

Thousands of wireless transmitters could pop up across unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County in the next few years if the Board of Supervisors ap…


Health and Wellness

As winter looms in Missouri, health officials are expressing concern over the potential for three viruses to impact facilities. This season has …

Social Issues

Research says 80% of community-college students intend to transfer to complete a bachelor's degree, but only 14% do so within six years. …


Around 21 million American children receive free or reduced-price lunch at school, but only half of them receive free breakfast despite being eligible, according to New Hampshire Hunger Solutions. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Advocates for children say up to 7,000 students in New Hampshire public schools are going hungry following the rejection of a federal program for low-…

Social Issues

By Carrie Baker for Ms. Magazine.Broadcast version by Roz Brown for Texas News Service reporting for the Ms. Magazine-Public News Service …

A caucus is not an election; it's a political party gathering in which party members choose candidates for an election. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

For the first time in almost 50 years, Iowa will not hold the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses for Democrats. The national party has ousted …

Health and Wellness

Nebraska is one of a dozen states experiencing "very high" levels of influenza, and the highest percentage of cases has been in children and young …

Social Issues

Indigenous activists in the Commonwealth are calling on state lawmakers to pass legislation to strengthen protections for Native American remains…

 

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