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Activists block Puget Sound Energy's HQ to protest Tacoma gas plant

Photo from 350 Seattle

BELLEVUE, Wash. - Protesters opposed to a liquefied natural gas facility under construction in Tacoma have built a small Native American longhouse replica blocking the entrance to Puget Sound Energy's corporate headquarters in Bellevue.

The protesters say that PSE has moved ahead with construction of the 8-million-gallon gas storage facility before receiving a key permit from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

The activists say that they, too, have requested a permit for their longhouse and are awaiting approval from the Bellevue Planning Department. “PSE hasn’t gotten its permits, and they’re continuing to build, so we figured we could do the same,” says protester Stacy Oaks.

Protesters say the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency recently ordered that a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement be completed before the agency would consider the permit for the gas storage facility. Nevertheless, construction continues.

The protesters also say that PSE has not consulted with the Puyallup Tribe, the historical owners of the land, about construction of the gas storage facility.

"This is how it feels when your consent is taken from you - we’re building without permission on PSE property, just as PSE is doing on our land," said Dakota Case of the Puyallup Water Warrior Movement. "But ours is a peaceful symbolic gesture, not a bullying, dangerous, and profit-taking one."

Case says the Puyallup Tribe retains treaty rights to preserve its way of life.

"We are demanding that PSE honor those treaties. We're asking PSE to respect our salmon, we're asking them to respect our mother Earth. This facility does not belong on our land and our water," Case said in a prepared statement.

PSE officials have not yet responded to a request for comment on the protesters' action - the latest in a long series of protests against the facility.

Previously, activists opposed to the gas facility have locked themselves to a crane at the construction site and blocked roads leading to the site.

A jury earlier acquitted two protesters because they said they could not decide whether the Port of Tacoma or the Puyallup Tribe owns the land where it is being built.

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