Port of Tacoma

Patrick Rodriguez via Wikimedia Commons

After working to defeat a plan for a giant methanol plant, the grassroots environmental group RedLine Tacoma has turned a critical eye to another big energy project, Puget Sound Energy's plan to build a facility at the Port of Tacoma to store liquefied natural gas and sell it as a marine fuel.

Port of Tacoma

Northwest Innovation Works, a company backed by an arm of the Chinese government, said in a statement that it's terminated its lease at the Port of Tacoma where the company had planned to build one of the world's largest methanol plants. 

The company said it's still pursuing a plan to build a smaller plant in Kalama on the Columbia River. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

It’s one of the more dramatic-sounding aspects of climate change: as carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases speed up global warming, sea levels are expected to rise too.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Port of Tacoma commissioners say they have a lot of unanswered questions about a Chinese-backed company's proposed methanol plant on port property.

Almost two years ago, the commissioners signed a 30-year lease with the company, Northwest Innovation Works, with little public input. But lately there’s been so much public outcry that the company paused the environmental review process and is now seeking an extension to the feasibility phase of the lease. 

Port of Tacoma

Northwest Innovation Works, the Chinese-backed company seeking to build one of the world’s largest methanol plants in Tacoma, says it wants to address community concerns, but at a panel discussion sponsored by the City Club of Tacoma, many people expressed frustration that they haven’t been able to get answers. 

Ashley Gross / KPLU

In Tacoma, a Chinese-backed company has been seeking to build one of the world’s largest plants to convert natural gas to methanol, which would then be shipped to China to be used in making plastics.

After an intense public outcry, the company recently said it will pause the environmental review process, saying it has been “surprised by the tone and substance of the vocal opposition that has emerged in Tacoma.”

Ashley Gross / KPLU

The city of Tacoma’s first public meeting about plans for the world’s largest methanol plant drew a much bigger crowd than expected. 

One fire marshal estimated that a thousand people showed up. Some couldn’t get into the main room or an overflow room because those were already full. 

Port of Tacoma

A Chinese-backed group wants to build what they say would be the world’s biggest methanol plant at the Port of Tacoma, raising lots of concerns among nearby residents, who will have a chance to weigh in on the project at a scoping meeting this Thursday. 

Puget Sound Energy

Plans for a liquefied natural gas facility at the Port of Tacoma are one step closer to reality, after the Tacoma City Council passed a resolution to move ahead on an agreement with the port about the project.

Puget Sound Energy says it needs a place to store natural gas and the way to do that is to chill it to a liquid form. So the company wants to spend $275 million to build the plant which would convert the gas to a liquid and then keep it on port property in a 140-foot-tall storage tank.

Northwest farmers are watching several bills closely in Congress that would try to keep trade moving through ports in the event of a labor dispute.

The container yard at the Port of Lewiston, Idaho, looks forgotten. A tall crane next to the Clearwater River sits parked and unused.

Off in the distance, two orange metal shipping containers lie side-by-side, surrounded by asphalt in every direction.

"Last year, there would've been probably 250 containers here," says David Doeringsfeld, the port's general manager.

AP Images

 

As the Port of Seattle joins with Tacoma to compete against other ports in British Columbia and California, concerns have arisen that it might be losing sight of some of key environmental goals, such as creating sustainable jobs.

The concerns come as Seattle moves forward with a controversial deal to temporarily host Royal Dutch Shell’s oil drilling fleet at terminal 5 in West Seattle.

Two rigs are headed for the Arctic later this summer, along with support vessels.  And the port says it needs the revenue from that lease to pay for upgrades to the terminal and keep it competitive – for Panamax ships and other things in the long haul.

At the same time, Seattle has joined forces with Tacoma to bring in more revenue from lots of other kinds of shippers – and that agreement, called the Seaport Alliance - has some environmentalists crying foul.

Fred Felleman is the Northwest consultant for Friends of the Earth and served on a port citizens’ committee to develop future goals.

"We're going to be perfectly positioned to roll out the red carpet for Arctic exploitation - not for sustainable clean-green jobs that we worked so hard with the Century Agenda Committee to make our emphasis,"Fellemen said.

He says that Century Agenda is fading into the background.

Felleman has been watch-dogging the port for years. He’s also just joined the race for an open seat on the port commission.

Port of Tacoma / Flickr

The cargo shipping industry is in the midst of big changes and that’s prompting the ports of Seattle and Tacoma to forge an alliance.

Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero, the top regulator of the nation's ports, says the alliance is a "great idea."

Walter Siegmund / Wikimedia Commons

 

The worsening labor dispute at West Coast container ports is causing shippers to search for alternate pathways to and from Asia.

An obvious place to look is the thriving port in Vancouver, B.C., but officials there say they can't absorb much diverted traffic.

Birdy206 / Flickr

The Pacific Maritime Association says it won't have any vessels loaded or unloaded at 29 West Coast ports, including Seattle and Tacoma, this weekend.

The association, which represents port terminal operators, says it doesn’t make sense to keep paying workers engaged in what employers call a months-long work slowdown.

Ayda D / Wikimedia Commons

 

A popular gift now for Chinese New Year is a box of red apples from Washington. But Northwest shippers say a labor dispute at West Coast ports is jeopardizing that lucrative overseas market.

B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure / Flickr

A federal mediator has been appointed to help facilitate collective bargaining between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, the group representing terminal operators up and down the West Coast.

The employers have been saying the longshoremen have deliberately slowed down work to gain leverage in contract talks. The workers say the slowdown is the result of other congestion problems, including a shortage of truck beds for carrying containers.

Tender Young Pony of Insomnia / Flickr

A slowdown in operations at ports up and down the West Coast is choking off the flow of apples, Christmas trees, potatoes and other Northwest products to foreign markets. Exporters say the delays could have long-term consequences for Northwest agriculture if the problems aren’t resolved before the holidays.

Birdy206 / Flickr

The operators of West Coast port terminals say the International Longshore and Warehouse Union is engaged in a work slowdown at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. The two sides have been negotiating for about six months to reach a new contract.

Tender Young Pony of Insomnia / Flickr

After years of stealing each other’s customers, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma are going to work together. They’re not merging into one entity, but they’ve formed what they’re calling a seaport alliance to jointly run the marine cargo terminals and market to customers together. 

vidaarctique / Flickr

A fuel terminal developer has unexpectedly scrapped a project at the Port of Tacoma. It was intended to receive crude oil by rail. The reasons for the cancellation are murky.

Chris Grygiel / Associated Press

Container volume is down more than 8 percent at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma in July, most likely a reflection of the weak economy. But the ports also face longer-term challenges.

Competition from Canadian ports is fierce. Then there’s the widening of the Panama Canal, set to be done in 2015, which some people say could divert ships away from the Pacific Northwest. And then there’s the Chinese economy to think about.

Mr T in DC

Washington’s senators say they want to change the tax that applies to cargo coming into U.S. ports. They say the tax, as it stands right now, is pushing shipping companies to divert containers to Canada and Mexico. 

An attempt to get rid of tiny pests has proven costly for the Port of Tacoma.

The Port and two contractors have agreed to pay a half-million dollar fine and spend more than $4 million to restore and enhance wetlands under a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The wetlands at Hylebos Marsh were damaged during attempts by the Port to eradicate an invasive snail. The dime-sized vineyard snail comes from the Mediterranean and can destroy grain crops.

Bari Bookout

The ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver, B.C., are working together to dramatically reduce emissions. And they’re trying to do that without scaring away any cargo companies. 

Most of the diesel air pollution at the ports comes from ocean-going ships, but also from tug boats, cranes, trucks and trains. 

Port of Tacoma

A team of economists at the University of Puget Sound say strength in military spending and port traffic will help lift Pierce County’s economy this year.

TACOMA, Wash. — A new cargo ship called Monday at the Port of Tacoma.

The containership Dusseldorf Express was the first ship from the Grand Alliance of three shipping lines that once called at the Port of Seattle.

Tom Colins / Flickr

TACOMA, Wash. — A Port of Seattle commissioner says the Port of Tacoma's winning away three shippers Thursday represents a "race to the bottom" that hurts the region.