Tacoma City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli told the newly formed advocacy group RedLine Tacoma last week that the city would not approve the petition for an advisory vote.
The city charter says Tacoma residents can collect signatures to put an item on the ballot to change or amend a city ordinance, but is silent on advisory votes.
“As I said from Day One, my main concern is that everybody knows about it, and getting everyone engaged and involved,” said Claudia Riedener, who has been out front expressing concern for the proposed Tideflats methanol project. “We will continue to do outreach and information.”
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An advisory vote would not have changed any laws, but another group, Save Our Water, is aiming for a ballot measure this fall that would change city law related to water.
So far, backers are mum on the details.
As I said from Day One, my main concern is that everybody knows about it, and getting everyone engaged and involved. We will continue to do outreach and information.
Claudia Riedener, RedLine Tacoma
Northwest Innovation Works, which is backed by the Chinese government, has said the proposed methanol facility will use 7,200 gallons per minute, or about 10.4 million gallons a day.
The refinery will require up to 450 megawatts at its peak. Tacoma Power’s entire customer base used 543 megawatts on average in 2014.
Riedener said the city attorney broke the news to RedLine Tacoma on Friday, a week after the group filed its papers. It would have needed to collect 3,190 signatures from voters registered in Tacoma to get the issue onto the fall ballot.
The initiative would have asked voters: “Do you want the largest methanol production refinery in the world emitting toxic byproducts that would pollute our air and water located in the Port of Tacoma?”
Laws would not have changed had people voted against the issue. Rather, supporters said lawmakers could look to the results as a guide for how people feel. Riedener said RedLine Tacoma will not file another initiative.
That might not be the end of ballot issues on the proposed gas-to-methanol refinery. Instead, a few people split from RedLine Tacoma and are working on another initiative petition regarding water use.
Donna Walters is working on the water issue. While she would not release specifics, she said information could be available in the coming days and weeks.
Sherry Bockwinkel, who worked with RedLine Tacoma initially and will work with Save Our Water, said people who donated to advance an advisory vote will have their money refunded.