On Monday evening, Water Protectors seized an opportunity to question Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) in Tacoma, WA.
PSCAA hosted two Public Information Meetings to present information and answer any questions about the PSE LNG (Puget Sound Energy Liquid Natural Gas) air quality permit application.
Protectors were able to press PSCAA on their enforcement of permit violations by the Australian based energy company.
LNG Battle History
Many long nights and even longer meetings have punctuated the battle to stop PSE from building their plant and Protectors are prepared for many more. Every week more people wake up to the reality of what having a 166 kiloton bomb in their city would mean.
We’ve been here before and Tacoma is no stranger to fights for the environment. The disastrous Asarco smelter, gone for over 20 years now, has left a legacy of arsenic-laden soil across the region and lost generations to sickness and disease.
Two years ago, the fight was to stop a Methanol plant on the Tacoma Tideflats. That battle was a success for the Water Protectors. Then attention turned to the LNG plant that will border the Hylebos Waterway.
ReDefine Tacoma was among the first to wage a protection effort against PSE’s intentions. They pointed that this was a foreign holding company that had no stake in the well-being of the local population. Finally, relief on the Methanol plant came when the Puyallup Nation stepped in to assist in bringing awareness. The fight against the LNG has taken a similar turn with all eyes on the Tribe.
In April, groups concerned that PSE was about to break ground rallied outside the location of the proposed facility. A month later, 6 brave citizens from a group called Tacoma Direct Action locked themselves down to an Auger at the site as work began. This galvanized the various groups and created momentum.
By June, the Puyallup Tribe had its own grassroots movement intent on beating the LNG facility. The ‘Water Warriors’ worked to bring a visible protest against the construction while organizing the various groups into effective action.
Awareness grew further when teams from the Greater Tacoma area united with teams from Seattle, Olympia, and the greater Salish Sea. They walked 3 days, from Seattle to Tacoma, bringing consciousness to the industrialized attack on their most precious resource, water. Due to the daily threats to water, they have witnessed the local Orca whale pods dwindling in size.
They participated in hard direct action knowing it would lead to arrest. This past spring, summer, fall, and winter emerged as war cry from the NO-LNG warriors. Exhausted, worn-out, sometimes depressed but never defeated. Constantly looking out for each other. They amazingly cheer each other on.
They know PSE LNG in 253 will be defeated. In the battle for clean air and a future for seven generations, this is a must.
Because of the passion, prayer and zeal that the Protectors/Warriors have invested, they are developing a single-mindedness. That was evident last week when the usual faces met again, in the same spaces to both learn from and inform PSCAA on the challenges ahead.
There are clearly mixed feelings about PSCAA. They are a government agency and such bodies have often sided against Protectors. The current administration in Washington DC is intent on increasing fracking and natural gas production.
We know that many of the environmental safeguards fought for over decades are being dismantled by the current President and the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt.
One after another, tribal representatives and local citizens stood in line to deliver questions.
A huge focus was on the cumulative effects of emissions which PSCAA admitted they don’t consider during permit applications. Similarly, there was concern over the interpretation of the Clean Air Act.
Treaty questions and jurisdictional issues were also raised.
Hope is what we have, despite recent setbacks. Significantly, there was a genuine openness about the permitting process. There was an encouragement to help the Agency in determining this permit. Presenting the right questions and legal arguments in the upcoming Public Comment period is important.
This week, the agency learned that the activists are aware, educated and ready for what lies ahead.