Tribe wins LNG resolution from Seattle City Council Historic government-to-government meeting yields results

Seattle City Council member Debora Juarez (second from right), chair of Seattle City Council’s Civic Development, Public Assets and Native Communities Committee, celebrated with Puyallup elder and Water Warrior Ramona Bennett (next to Debora Juarez) and Puyallup Tribal Council members Annette Bryan, David Bean and James Rideout.

In their ongoing efforts to protect the water, air, lands and people on their reservation and surrounding areas, the Puyallup Tribe took its fight against Puget Sound Energy’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant to Seattle City Council. Seeking to shore up support and bring attention to this fossil fuel facility being built at Port of Tacoma, Puyallup Tribal Councilmembers Annette Bryan, Jim Rideout, Sylvia Miller and David Bean, backed by a host of activist Water Warriors, met with Seattle City Council members during a Civic Development, Public Assets and Native Communities Committee meeting on Feb. 21. Councilmember Debora Juarez (Blackfeet), who grew up on the Puyallup reservation, chairs the committee.

The meeting was historic in itself. “This is the first time that government-to-government relations at the committee table have been honored,” said Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda.

Councilwoman Bryan said she is very proud that the Puyallup Tribe is the first to have a seat at the Seattle City Council table. “I’m hoping that will translate to other governmental agencies, cities, counties – that we can start having meaningful government-to-government conversations and I hope this sets a precedent for that.”

During the meeting, the Puyallup Council members reiterated that with Tacoma and Seattle in such proximity, what affects Tacoma affects Seattle and vice-versa.

The LNG Water Warriors had a lot of support in the audience at Seattle City Council.

“Our ancestral home lands went well beyond any boundary that was put upon us, so we absolutely think it’s relevant that the city of Seattle is standing with us and supporting us. We would hope that the city of Tacoma would do the same thing. The LNG facility is being set on our ancestral tidelands. We have to protect it and we will protect it. It cannot be replaced.”

Ultimately, the Seattle Council members heard the Puyallup leadership loud and clear, unanimously passing a resolution on Feb. 26 calling on local agencies to honor tribal treaties and respect the Puyallup Tribe as its own sovereign nation that must be included in decision making. The Tribe issued the following press release the day the resolution passed.

Seattle calls on local agencies to comply with treaty and consult with Puyallup Tribe

TACOMA, Wash. – Puyallup tribal leadership today applauded the City of Seattle for passing a resolution calling for meaningful consultation with the Tribe on Puget Sound Energy’s liquefied gas (LNG) plant.

The resolution, which passed 7-0, was drafted by Councilmember Debora Juarez and calls on Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) to improve tribal consultation procedures and urges collaboration between regional, city and tribal leaders to address climate change. Councilmember Sally Bagshaw and Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda were absent from council today due to travel.

Puyallup Tribal Councilmember Annette Bryan, Councilmember David Bean and Councilmember James Rideout all testified in favor of the amended resolution during a Civic Development, Public Assets, and Native Communities committee meeting last week.

“We thank the City of Seattle and Mayor Jenny Durkan for standing with us against this dangerous facility that threatens our culture and livelihood,” said Puyallup Chairman Bill Sterud. “Seattle City Council has done the right thing – we hope the City of Tacoma will show the same courage and follow in their footsteps.”

The resolution is the second major win for the Tribe following a Jan. 24 decision from PSCAA to require a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to analyze the LNG plant’s greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this month, 14 Northwest Tribes sent an open letter to Gov. Jay Inslee to halt construction of the LNG plant and honor the tribal consultation process.

“I am proud to support the Puyallup Tribal Council in their concerns for the proposed LNG plant in Tacoma,” Councilmember Juarez said. “In a historic move, I invited the Puyallup Tribal Council to join me at the committee table and engage in a government-to-government dialogue on the LNG project. After careful crafting and consensus building with the Puyallup Tribe and I am honored the Seattle City Council has passed a resolution in response to the LNG facility that pays respect to the Puyallup Tribe’s sovereignty and urges PSCAA to improve its tribal consultation practices and make deeper investments in clean energy.”

The Puyallup Tribe is calling on the City of Tacoma, Department of Ecology, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and PSCAA to demand PSE cease construction until the full environmental review of the project is completed and all permit requirements are satisfied.

“We continue to call upon the Army Corps of Engineers to step in as the federal trustee responsible for protecting the Puyallup Tribe’s trust- and treaty-protected resources, which this facility directly threatens,” Chairman Sterud said. “Since time immemorial, these lands and waters have sustained our people – it is our duty to protect them for the longevity and health of future generations. We will not allow a company to poison our homeland for profit.”