• Fossil Fuels

Lawsuit Could Block Federal Permits and Subsidies

Nov. 12, 2019 (Tacoma, Wash.)—Today, a coalition of public health and environmental groups challenged federal approvals for Northwest Innovation Works’ massive fracked gas-to-methanol refinery proposed for Kalama, Washington.

The complaint alleges that federal agencies violated the law by (1) ignoring the refinery’s massive climate pollution, (2) undercutting the public interest under the Clean Water Act, and (3) failing to protect threatened salmon and endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales when they issued permits and approvals for the methanol refinery.

Washington Environmental Council, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and Columbia Riverkeeper filed today’s legal challenge in the federal district court for the Western District of Washington. The groups are represented by nonprofit law firm Earthjustice.

The case seeks to invalidate federal Clean Water Act permits for the methanol refinery and stall questionable federal subsidies sought by refinery proponents.

“The urgency of our climate crisis demands the highest level of scrutiny, and we cannot allow massive new fracked gas projects to move forward based on outdated science and flawed evaluation,” said Joan Crooks, CEO of Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters.

“From safety hazards to disastrous climate impacts, this methanol refinery would seriously threaten human health,” said Dr. Mark Vossler, a cardiologist and the president of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. “We will continue to press our leaders to reject this dangerous fracked gas refinery.”

“This dirty fracked-gas project will harm the climate and threaten some of our most beloved and endangered wildlife,” said Jared Margolis, senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ll fight this dangerous, polluting refinery until it’s dead in the water.”

“This fracked gas-to-methanol facility would be a disaster for water, wildlife, and the climate, and it should never have received federal approval,” said Sierra Club campaign representative Stephanie Hillman.

“We will continue to fight to ensure that this dirty, dangerous facility is never built.” “We refuse to sacrifice our climate and the Columbia River for corporate profit,” said Miles Johnson, senior attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper. “The Columbia River is closed to fossil fuel export—gas, oil, and coal must stay in the ground.”



Washington Environmental Council is a nonprofit, statewide advocacy organization that has been driving positive change to solve Washington’s most critical environmental challenges since 1967 with the mission to protect, restore, and sustain Washington’s environment for all.

Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Washington State chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, engages the community to create a healthy, just, sustainable, and peaceful world by addressing the gravest threats to human health.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to protecting endangered species and wild places.

Columbia Riverkeeper works to protect and restore the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.

The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization.

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health; to preserve magnificent places and wildlife; to advance clean energy; and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.