Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Smoke Signals


January 1, 2020

At press time, a well-publicized struggle was underway by a powerful group to undermine the rule of law. For more than three years this group has garnered publicity from a mostly compliant media while simultaneously launching legal battles in an effort to force its ideology on those with whom it disagrees.

Of course we’re referring to efforts in Washington State by well-funded environmental activist groups to obstruct the construction of Puget Sound Energy’s LNG facility on the Tacoma Tideflats.

The facility is intended to provide LNG for local homes as well as for refueling two TOTE Maritime vessels currently being retrofitted to burn the clean fuel on their trips between Tacoma and Anchorage, Alaska.

Puget LNG notes that replacing diesel fuel with LNG reduces sulphur dioxide emissions by more than 98 percent, harmful particulate matter by more than 85 percent, nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions by nearly 85 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 15 percent.

The company says the Tacoma facility will provide customers with a safe, reliable and economic source of LNG with numerous end uses, including providing clean LNG fuel for ships calling at the Port of Tacoma. “We welcome the ability to work with customers to lower their carbon footprint in combination with lowering operations costs.”

Construction on the contested facility began in November of 2016, at which point activist groups immediately began challenging its existence, hoping, among other goals, to “halt the expansion of the fossil fuel industry.”

Last month the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) announced the completion of its review of the LNG facility’s notice of construction application, including public comments, and made a final determination that the proposal should be approved. The news was met with more protest and more calls for litigation.

The most vocal groups involved in the protests have included well-funded activist corporations such as Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, as well as the local Puyallup Tribe of Indians, who claim they are “…gravely concerned that the risks to Tribal members, the public and the environment have not been adequately disclosed.”

We don’t know how much the Puyallup Tribe made last year, but it is preparing to open a new, $370 million casino, and through its economic development arm, Marine View Ventures, the tribe also operates two car washes, seven gas stations and a marina, as well as two storefronts selling marijuana to members of its tribe in Tacoma and Fife.

The protesters claim they don’t want any fossil fuels, but the Puyallup tribe is still selling gasoline and diesel fuel in seven locations around the Port of Tacoma. When the LNG plant is operational next year the TOTE Maritime ships calling at the Port will be more ecologically responsible than the Puyallup Tribe. Maybe it’s time for the tribe to consider its own role in the “risks to Tribal members” and stop blowing smoke.

Chris can be reached at


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