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Washington state deals setback to massive methanol plant

SEATTLE — Washington state has dealt a setback to efforts to build one of the world’s biggest methanol plants on the Columbia River.

In a decision Friday, the Department of Ecology said backers of the $2 billion project still had not provided enough information about greenhouse gas emissions and how they would be offset. It is requiring another round of environmental review.

The Northwest Innovation Works project would take natural gas from Canada and convert it into methanol, which would be shipped to China to make olefins — compounds used in everything from fabrics and contact lenses to iPhones and medical equipment.

Backers said the project would seriously reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by displacing China’s use of coal to make methanol. Environmental groups said there was little evidence of that.

Gene Johnson, The Associated Press