How is Tacoma dealing with environmental issues as a city? Today we spoke with Tacoma City Council Member Ryan Mello (position 8). Ryan is also the executive director of the Pierce County Conservation District. PCD works with the community to improve water quality, promote sustainable agriculture, create thriving habitat, and build a just and healthy food system for all. I asked Ryan to come on the show to talk about air quality and the recent passage of Prop 3 and Prop A (road and pothole repairs in Tacoma)- but as we were prepping, Move to Tacoma Podcast Sound Guy/Producer Doug Mackey urged me to ask Ryan to explain what is happening with the Methanol Plant that a consortium of Chinese investors has proposed building on the former site of the Kaiser Aluminum plant in the Port of Tacoma. Ryan was happy to talk about what he knows about the plant, and more importantly gave great information and insight to help Tacomans like Doug that oppose the Methanol Plant find points in the process where it can be disrupted. The first 15 minutes is focussed on air quality and de-paving. If you're interested in potholes you can skip ahead to about 16 minutes into the podcast. If you're only here to hear Ryan talk about the Methanol Plant, start the podcast at 29:50. According to Ryan:
There's not a very black and white way for those who want to build the project to build it, and there's not a very black and white way for those who want to oppose the project to oppose it.
It's elected officials job to help concerned citizens navigate this complex process to educate themselves and ultimately oppose it if they choose.
The port of Tacoma is an independent government separately elected. The Port of Tacoma follows Tacoma's land use laws but they are elected, the port owns the tide flats, they have their own economic development strategy, and they do not answer to the Tacoma City Council. They answer to their constituents.
Ryan would like to see concerned Tacomans lobby the Port Commissioners to produce a more progressive economic development strategy.
Our water comes from the Green River. (I didn't know that.)
The City Council will NOT get to vote on the Methanol Plant. The city permits and regulates the plant.The current zoning allows for a Methanol Plant at the port. The city staff will study all concerns and questions brought forward (for about a year) and then deliver a draft environmental impact statement. Water use, power use, combustibility, pollutants- there is so much on the table for the City of Tacoma to investigate.
If Tacomans are going to effectively lobby against the plant, they need to understand who the decision makers are and what the process is. The decision makers in the process (at this time) are The Port of Tacoma Commissioners and the City of Tacoma Planning Director. The planning director is charged with analyzing the risks and whether our infrastructure can support this project.If you'd like to learn more about the Methanol Plant check out this info: Seattle Business, "Chinese Investors Propose to Build Three Methanol Plants in the Region" KPLU 88.5FM "Tacoma Residents Will Get A Chance To Weigh In On Plans For Giant Methanol Plant" The News Tribune, "City, port leaders point to each other as methanol debate escalates" Redline Tacoma, a site made by local residents that oppose the construction of the Methanol Plant in Tacoma For information on Air Quality, The Environment, and Potholes in Tacoma check out these links: Information on the Tacoma Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone City of Tacoma, "Prop 3 and Prop A Pass" City of Tacoma, "Six Year Comprehensive Transportation Plan" Depave Tacoma - Learn more about changing concrete to soil.