TACOMA, Wash. — A public hearing drew a large crowd to Tacoma on Tuesday to hear comments about Puget Sound Energy's new liquefied natural gas plant. The hearing was held by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, the group holding the last key permit needed for construction of the plant to finalize.
"Please I just ask you humbly to deny this permit. As everybody else has already said, I ask for the future generations," one woman said.
Opponents fighting to stop the plant continued their six-year battle, arguing against continued investment in fossil fuels.
"We need to make a just transition off of fossil fuels and I just want to say that we are all here because our only special interest is our children," said Nanette Reetz.
So far, the plant's plans have been scrutinized by an Environmental Impact Statement dating back to 2013. Last year, the Clean Air Agency began analyzing the plant's projected greenhouse gas emissions, from the extraction of the gas all the way to when it's burned.
"Maritime shipping has new emissions regulations where they need to move to cleaner fuels and those are U.S. regulations and international regulations too. Liquefied natural gas allows those ships to do that," said PSE Spokesman Andy Wappler. "It cuts the smoke compared to diesel and bunker oil. It reduces the chance of spills. A cuts sulfur and nitrogen and it reduces greenhouse gases."
The plant will likely come online in 2021, Wappler said.
"I certainly appreciate why people are concerned and I think it's great they are involved in their community. The air agency did what they asked them to do which was to study this issue of greenhouse gases. The report says the plant will help in terms of greenhouse gas emissions," he said.
The effort to stop the plant is led by the Puyallup tribe.
"This is a worldwide problem and if we don't do something now, we are not going to have a chance to do something later," said tribal member Patricia Gonzalez.
"You have a duty to protect our best interest and our best interest is being out on these waters and fishing," tribal member Dakota Case told the agency.