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Canada could help reduce emissions at Tacoma LNG plant, report finds

Greenhouse gas emissions would decrease if a proposed LNG plant in Tacoma were to move forward, according to a supplemental environmental impact statement. However, that's only if the gas were sourced exclusively from Canada.

An analysis released Monday found a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Tacoma would decrease greenhouse gas emissions if the source of the natural gas supply was from British Columbia.

The proposed $300 million LNG plant would receive natural gas and chill it to produce between 250,000 and 500,000 gallons of LNG daily. It would also store up to 8 million gallons of LNG on site before it's distributed for use.

On the high end, the report projected the LNG plant would release about 1.39 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, compared to about 1.44 million metric tons if no action were taken and industrial maritime operations were to continue, according to the draft supplemental environmental impact statement.

Building and operating the plant would result in between 39,896 and 56,705 fewer metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year than if no action were taken, the report says.

Credit: Thomasseau, Allison
Total greenhouse gas emissions in metric tons if the proposed Tacoma LNG plant were built vs. taking no action. (Graphic: Life Cycle Associates)

However, these calculations were based on assumptions that the gas is coming from Canada. If the gas came from somewhere else, emissions would be higher, according to the analysis.

The analysis cited research that showed greenhouse emission factors from natural gas production in the U.S. are higher than in Canada, and therefore estimated the proposed LNG plant’s upstream emission rate could be eight times higher if the gas was not exclusively sourced from Canada.

The report, which was conducted by two consulting firms, also found the great amount of LNG that replaces other petroleum-based fuels, the greater the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, which is one of the groups involved in approving the plant’s construction permit, requested the supplemental environmental impact statement in January after Department of Ecology information that was used in a previous statement was removed from the agency’s website for revision.

The proposed plant has sparked controversy among environmental groups and Puyallup tribal leaders concerned about the environmental impact of LNG on the area. Supporters of the project say the plant would bring needed jobs to the area.

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A spokesperson for Puget Sound Energy, which has applied for the project permits, said it is still reviewing the details of the report, but believes "the study was thorough and complete."

The public can comment on the supplemental environmental impact statement through November 21. There will be a public hearing October 30 from 2-5 p.m. and 6:30-10 p.m. at the Rialto Theater, 310 South 9th Street, Tacoma.