Sightline is publishing a new report today: Fracked Fuel and Petrochemical Proposals in the Northwest. It provides the first regionwide inventory of a new class of projects under consideration. Although these proposals encompass an array of fuels and technologies, they share core features: they are possible in large part because of new oil and gas extraction techniques, especially fracking, and they either burn carbon-based fossil fuels or use them for manufacturing plastics and related products.
Although coal export and oil-by-rail have grown intensely controversial, analysts and the media have for the most part overlooked or left unexplored this further category of projects: fracked fuel and petrochemical schemes that would transform the Northwest into a major international shipping hub for fossil fuels and their byproducts. Eight proposals in Oregon and Washington would build new refineries, pipelines, and port facilities to export as much as 16.7 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG), 27.4 million barrels of propane-like gases, 14.5 million tons of methanol, and 5.5 million barrels of xylene each year.
Stretching from Coos Bay, Oregon, in the south to Washington’s Puget Sound in the north, the proposed fracked fuel and petrochemical projects pose a range of significant stresses to regional resources. They would consume large quantities of fresh water, create potentially serious safety risks to local communities, release various forms of toxic contaminants into the Northwest’s air and water, and increase the region’s carbon pollution load.