Many observers say the Washington Hearings Board caved into environmental group pressure with their decision, especially since they had already granted the permits earlier this summer.

The shoreline use permits that would have allowed a massive methanol gas plant to proceed near Kalama, WA in Cowlitz County were reversed Tuesday by a Washington hearings board.

According to NW Innovation Works, the Department of Ecology had granted the two shoreline use permits which would have allowed for the preliminary construction to begin on the huge plant.  It would convert natural gas into methanol, which would be shipped to China and used to make a wide variety of products.

However, this week, after pressure from Columbia Riverkeeper, The Sierra Club, and The Center for Biological Diversity, the hearings board invalidated the two permits. This basically sends NW Innovation Works back to the drawing board. Some say it will kill the project. Data from NW Innovation indicated the project would create around 1,500 jobs. Cowlitz County is one of several on the west side and along the Columbia River in Southwest WA that have upper double-digit unemployment rates, and are considered economically distressed.

The hearings board sided with the environmental groups, who claim the company didn't fully investigate or examine the potential greenhouse gas effects the plant would create. This ruling came despite the earlier approval by the Department of Ecology.