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Tacoma LNG Storage Project Still Moving Forward Despite Challenges

A Native American Indian tribe is challenging in court support by Tacoma, WA, and its port authority for Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to develop a $275 million liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility to store customer supply and marine fuel.

Originally slated to begin construction this year, the project is still dealing with a number of regulatory and stakeholder headwinds (see Daily GPI,Aug. 28, 2014). A Bellevue, WA-based spokesperson told NGI that the project is moving forward, albeit behind schedule.

In mid-December, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians filed a petition in Pierce County Superior Court seeking to prevent Tacoma’s approval of a lease between PSE and the port for the proposed LNG site.

City officials in November approved an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the project and authorized the city manager to complete an agreement with the port for the proposed facility.

"We respect the tribe and would like to have more conversations with them regarding their concerns," said a PSE spokesperson.

Tacoma's Planning and Development Services Department recently completed an EIS on the proposed facility. PSE would pay for some upgraded municipal facilities and services, such as upgrading a fire station (No. 15) and paying for half the cost of related road rebuilding. Steps also were outlined for the city and port authorities to work cooperatively during the next four years to fund the balance of public works projects.

Plans by PSE to develop a LNG storage and transportation facility at the port south of Seattle last year gained approval of a lease by the port's governing board. The utility's plans are part of a larger development slated for a vacant industrial strip in the Tideflats port.

The mostly idle industrial area has become a magnet for multiple natural gas proposals involving marine transportation and methanol production (see Daily GPI,May 7, 2014).

PSE's proposed facility would ensure "dependable, affordable gas service" to 770,000 residential and commercial customers in western Washington during periods of peak demand, a spokesperson said. It also bids to supply LNG fuel to Totem Ocean Trailer Express (Tote), which operates two trailer ships between Tacoma and Anchorage, AK.

"The LNG facility will help Tote and its transportation companies to switch from diesel to clean natural gas and lower their carbon emissions," the spokesperson said. "It would be unfortunate to delay their efforts to do that, and an appeal also will delay our ability to help the city reopen Fire Station No. 15."

PSE, which was named with the city and the port in the tribe's lawsuit, contended that the LNG project has been "extensively evaluated" by both the city and independent consultants as part of the EIS process. "[We're] confident that the city's rigorous work reviewing the project satisfies all applicable requirements," the spokesperson said.

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