Shelby Cross, Online Reporter
Some Washington tribes are facing the same issues as their counterparts in North Dakota: the U.S. government hasn’t consulted with them prior to moving forward with major infrastructure projects. In North Dakota, it’s the Access Pipeline. In Washington, it’s the Clean Energy natural gas storage facility.
The North Dakota Access Pipeline has become a national issue. According to Facebook, 92,521 users were talking about the pipeline as of Oct. 26.
The group demonstrating against the construction of the pipeline identifies themselves as water protectors, but the media refers to them as protesters which many people interpret as a biased term.
In Washington, Clean Energy is the company that has started working with Puget Sound Energy on a storage facility in Tacoma. They plan to store eight million gallons of liquefied natural gas on the tide flats near the Port of Tacoma. Two million gallons are intended to be shipped to Alaska, and the other six to be stored for residential housing needs.
Many people have probably heard of DAPL and the surrounding controversy, but very few people have probably heard of the natural gas storage facility in Tacoma.
When the issue is addressed, it’s typically only the company, Clean Energy, filling the first few pages of Google results with articles about the positive aspects of natural gas.
“I think that there are definitely benefits to cleaner fuel,” Puyallup Tribal Councilwoman Annette Bryan said. “I don’t think, however, that placing it near schools and huge industrial sources of toxins and contaminants in a densely populated city center is a good idea.”
The Puyallup Tribe argues that the storage facility is being constructed on the Puyallup Reservation without the tribe’s consent, claiming that Clean Energy obtained the permits improperly because they didn’t speak with the tribe before continuing with the project.
The tribe is preparing to fight them in court to repeal the construction permit not only because they believe it was granted to Clean Energy illegally, but because the project would put the Tacoma tide flats at risk.
Bryan is currently speaking with the Army Corps of Engineers at the Pentagon because they oversee permits.
“I’ve been to the District of Columbia for the Tribal Nations Conference, talking to the Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, the Pentagon and whoever will listen just to say, ‘You guys need to step back and look at the process and the way it was handled, and know that we weren’t consulted with,'” Bryan said. “There’s other actions that the tribe can take, and likely will, to appeal any permit that’s issued based on those facts.”
Some Tacoma citizens are concerned that the walls of the storage facility are not as safe as the company has said. Clean Energy claims that any explosion in their facility wouldn’t extend beyond their property line, according to their website. The company isn’t releasing the documents proving their statement that explosions will be contained, according to a July 2 article from The News Tribune.
Historically, Native American tribes have been deceived by treaties the U.S. government has made with them, only to break dozens of years later, and many would argue this appears to be the case with the natural gas storage facility in Tacoma.