Fracked Gas. You might think it was laughing gas considering the way the political and business interests rub their hands and celebrate its use. We see this behavior despite the objections of the people and contrary to the science about the damage fracking causes the environment.
The LNG site in Tacoma and the Puyallup Tribes opposition to it has been well documented for the past several months.
For some, this is Tacoma’s ‘Standing Rock’ and the parallels are obvious. A dangerous and toxic fossil fuel project is being placed next to tribal land, along with a pipeline that runs directly through the reservation.
We at Native Daily Network vowed a year ago to see this through. That hasn’t changed. This week we attended the site to attach prayer ties to the fence and sing prayer songs for Unci Maka.
Notice of Construction
Back at the beginning of September, we learned through legal documents that Puget Sound Energy (PSE) was building the facility without the correct permits. Most notably missing was a Notice of Construction from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency(PSCAA).
Also in September, we met and spoke with the Director of the PSCAA who told us that while no permit or indeed, a complete application was yet on file, he fully expected that to happen.
As of October the 3rd, according to their website, the Agency now considers PSE’s application for an Air Quality Permit to be ‘Technically’ complete. The next step is for PSCAA is to grant PSE the Permit and therefore the Notice of Construction will be legal.
To this end, there are a couple of important hearings hosted by Puget Sound Clean Air Agency coming up. If you’re in with theNOLNG253, please plan on attending and preparing a statement.
Date & Time:
Monday, November 27, 2017, from 7 PM – 9 PM
Friday, December 1, 2017, from 10 AM – 12 PM
Bates Technical College
1101 S Yakima Ave
Tacoma, WA 98405
More information can be found here: https://www.pscleanair.org/460/Current-Permitting-Projects
They Have Not Listened
Attending meetings and speaking up is important in treating the symptoms of environmental disaster. We recommend and encourage that. Keep in mind that it’s just part of the solution. What speaking isn’t, is a cure.
We consider it highly likely that NOLNG Water Protectors will pack the house and many will speak passionately about why they oppose this plant. It’s also highly likely that PSCAA will approve it regardless.
The system is broken and for a long time has not been guided by the wishes of the people.
A regular feature of the fight to protect the water and safeguard future generations has been in City Halls. Many people have been reaching out to politicians. The hope is that they would listen to their constituents.
Passionate, educated and at times desperate voices have spoken out from a microphone. They have asked that the people sitting in positions of privilege listen to them.
Councillors and Commissioners alike have been asked to consider our information just as much as they consider the information given to them by the companies that profit from their decisions. They didn’t listen.
Passionate tribal members stood up and spoke of treaty rights, violations and the requirements of legally binding settlements. They didn’t listen.
Tacoma has just completed an election cycle and there were a few candidates that stood with the tribe and in opposition to the LNG facility. Unfortunately, as it stands, it appears none of those candidates won seats.
This is in contrast to almost every other election in the United States. Elsewhere progressive environmentally friendly candidates were the clear winners as most Americans are rejecting the fossil fuel paradigm.
Not so in Tacoma and that is partly down to a strong campaign of greenwashing by Puget Sound Energy and the huge amount of money they have donated to fracking-friendly candidates directly or through PACs.
Environmental Racism, in general terms, is the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color.
Colonial Racism is that and more. For indigenous communities, its when they are denied legal process. It is when their opinions, values, traditions and beliefs are not considered factors. In Tacoma, like at Standing Rock, that is exactly what is happening to the Puyallup Tribe of Indians.
In fact, the likely winner of the Tacoma mayoral election, Victoria Woodards, is an ardent supporter of fracked gas as she erroneously believes that it’s an acceptable bridge fuel. Despite the facts being presented to her, she has never wavered from that opinion. Even when she was ejected from the Puyallup Tribes landing at the annual Canoe Journey, she didn’t waver.
It’s no real surprise then that big financial backers for her election campaign were Puget Sound Energy, TOTE Maritime (who will be the primary customer of the LNG facility) and other Port of Tacoma interests.
The outgoing Mayor, who Woodards succeeds, famously shut the doors on the several hundred Native Women who were marching to City Hall for the Citizens Forum. Colonial Racism is going strong in Tacoma even among groups who claim to stand against bigotry. Political expediency, it seems, is more important than that.
We can only hope that now the elections are over, we see real reconciliation with the first peoples of this land and a commitment to living up to the City and Ports responsibilities under the Land Claim Settlement.
Bridge to Nowhere
Despite gas not being the clean fuel alternative that they claim it to be. It is sold as a ‘Bridge Fuel’ from coal and oil to a better but undefined future.
This is simply untrue and wrongly suggests that these companies are actively working on alternatives.
While there are groups working on Solar, Wind and BioFuels this isn’t true of the extraction industry or the businesses they support.
It’s not a ‘Bridge’ when there is no other side. It sounds good in an election cycle. Pro Business, Pro-Jobs. Politicians find it an easy sell to their constituents while they take dirty money for positions of power.
It’s an easy observation to make that those using the term ‘Bridge Fuel’ don’t behave like they believe it. Politicians all over the world are falling over themselves to embrace fracked gas. Industry and municipalities sign into 50 year plus leases on land for refineries and storage depots. The LNG plant and projects like it are less a bridge and more a long-term infrastructure projects.
Part of this problem is created by the CO2 emission targets. Rightly many are working towards lowering their carbon footprint but climate accords often ignore the elephant in the room, Methane.
Worse than Coal
Steve Storms, a retired chemical engineer, recently spoke at our ‘On Blast: Learn About LNG’ event about the effects of LNG on the environment. ‘It’s worse than coal’ he said, ‘considering that the so-called natural gas is being sourced from fracking wells.’
He explained that there is a significant release of methane at several steps in the process from extraction to use. The area of most concern is the fracking wells themselves, with a much higher release rate than previously anticipated.
2001 estimates suggested the leakage rates where at 1-2% but 15 years of study in the field has shown that to be between 11-17%. ‘Methane is 90% worse as a greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide’ Storms told us. The industry is still using old data that says Methane is ‘only’ 34% worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.
There is currently a 2500 square mile methane cloud over New Mexico as reported by NASA.
Fracking is clearly dangerous for the future of life on this planet but its impact on climate change and water is wilfully ignored in favor of other agendas. Fracking wells also leak Fracking Fluid into groundwater – our fresh water supply.
Popular Science published a report that focused on just surface leaks. Previous studies had focused solely on underground leaks. The researchers studied data from almost 32,000 wells and found 6700 had leaked. Due to the way spill data is reported the authors believe the estimates to be on the conservative side.
A big argument for supporters of the plant is that it will improve the air quality around the Port of Tacoma. It’s an important point because of reports of the health effects of current bunker fuels on workers.
An attendee at a recent rally in front of PSE offices told us that she felt it was incredibly selfish of the City and the Port to look at improving the air quality here but causing catastrophe elsewhere.
Excerpts under this heading were taken from this article.
Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1700 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences, penned the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity.”
These concerned professionals called on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and cautioned that“a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided.”
Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse.
Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and agricultural production—particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption.
Moreover, we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century
Back in Tacoma, tribal members and environmental groups are also deeply concerned about the safety of the plant to the community. They contend that the 8 million gallon LNG holding tank represents a huge explosive threat to residents in an up to 3-mile blast zone.
PSE, The Port of Tacoma, TOTE, and unions reject the arguments of explosive hazards. Project supporters point out the concrete and steel walls of the facility. A recent union letter argued that if people did their research they would realize there is no explosive risk.
They also point out, with no sense of irony, that if the employees of TOTE who work nearby wear fire-retardant jumpsuits, it might save lives as it had done in a similar incident at another LNG location.
Lloyds Register, the worlds leading risk assessor concluded recently that a 1.3 million gallon LNG facility in Gibraltar would put thousands of people at risk. The Gibraltar government aims to store LNG for use in power production. LNG at this facility, which will be shipped in, will be stored in 5 separate 265,000-gallon containers.
In Tacoma, we’re looking at a potentially explosive power of 166 kilotons of TNT. For perspective, the Hiroshima bomb had the power of 15 kilotons of TNT.
A recent study commissioned by the city of Martin in Florida pinpoints these dangers. They are facing the prospect of trains that will be transporting LNG traveling through their region. They published a study on the explosive impact a 10,000-gallon car of LNG could have. Anyone within one-third of a mile of a potential 10,000 gallon LNG explosion would be in grave danger. Can you imagine an explosion 800 times greater as would be the case if there was an explosion at the Tacoma plant?
Risk Too High
The risk is too great for the Puyallup Tribe and for the people that live in the region. The Port is already the home to several Superfund sites and an oil industry expanding at a rapid rate.
The Puyallup people and residents of Tacoma want to start cleaning up the mess that is already there. All of the groups want to avoid adding to it. This has been a common refrain at Port Commission and Council meetings.
Some Superfund sites include inorganic arsenic and signs posted to fences warn of associated cancer risks, all while workmen dig into the ground without even so much as a facemask. It’s been mentioned by activists several times but if there was an explosion at the site what else would it throw into the air to fall down on the local residents who survived the blast?
The safety risks are compounded by the fact that the Port of Tacoma is only half a mile from the Tacoma Fault line. This makes up a part of the so-called Ring of Fire.
Wikipedia tells us that The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. In a 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes (more than 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes). The Ring of Fire is sometimes called the circum-Pacific belt.
In recent years, there have been significant quakes in the Ring of Fire. Some have reached a magnitude of 9.0. It is estimated that the Tacoma/Seattle area is currently overdue for a ‘Big-One.’ A massive earthquake that will have severe effects on our region.
The earthquake argument is largely sidestepped by most groups and when it is answered, we are told that the facility will have twice the earthquake resistance of the interstate. What they don’t mention is that the facility is being built on a part of the port that isn’t land at all. It’s built on silt and mud flats.
It’s estimated by the USGS that a magnitude 7.4 earthquake will liquefy the entire area. Much of those risks are explained here:
PSE aims to burden their own customers with much of the heavy lifting in terms of financing this project. That is to the tune of $143 million dollars.
Early in the movement, Redefine Tacoma pointed out that PSE was taking all of the rewards and all of the profit but none of the risks. The liability, they told us, was being put on PSE ratepayers.
The rest of the risk? That is on the Puyallup Tribe as well as people that live life in and around Tacoma.
Knock On Effects
In August this year, a pipeline belonging to USOIL leaked 25,000 gallons of Jet Fuel near McChord Air Force Base which is just outside of Tacoma. The pipeline runs from the Port of Tacoma.
Aquifers, as Ramona Bennett of the Puyallup Tribe recently reminded us, are under the ground. “Where do you think the Jet Fuel went?” she rhetorically asked.
Now residents in that part of Pierce County are seeing unusually and significantly higher water bills.
All of the profits, none of the risks.
We Stand Anyway
So we know what we are up against. They are relentless. The politicians simply do not care what the tribe has to say or how they feel. The Tacoma business community is sold on LNG even though they will be among the biggest financial victims if disaster strikes.
But we stand anyway. In prayer and in ceremony. We stand hopeful and in a belief that our voices are amplified by our cause.
Together we believe. Whenever we are in the presence of each other we see hope for humanity and a future for Tacoma. There are people everywhere committed to restoration. People willing to stand rather than talk.
Sign the Petition
You can also stand with us, no matter where you are. Please sign this petition and help us stop this disastrous project.