Kalispel Tribe opposing silicon smelter

Print Article

On Monday, the Kalispel Tribeís governing council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the HiTest silicon smelter. We took this sovereign action because it is necessary to protect the health, culture, and natural resources of our people. The Tribe is committed to supporting economic growth in Pend Oreille County, but not if we have to sacrifice the health of our kids and generations to come.

The Tribe waited for more than a year to take a position on the smelter in order to give HiTest an opportunity to show that the smelterís emissions would not be harmful. Emissions data recently disclosed in HiTestís Draft PSD Modeling Protocol prove otherwise. The smelter would generate 320,000 tons of greenhouse gases, 760 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 700 tons of nitrogen oxides each year. This is roughly equivalent to the amount of greenhouse gases produced by 65,000 cars driving 11,000 miles each through the streets of Newport per year, and the amount of sulfur dioxide generated by burning 165,000 woodstoves continuously at the proposed smelter location. Even if HiTest were able to obtain air quality permits for the smelter, this pollution burden would be bad for our air, bad for our health, bad for our natural resources, and bad for all of our local businesses that rely on clean air.

There are a number of other compelling reasons to oppose the smelter. First, the Tribe wants to support the many community members who have voiced concerns about the smelter and asked for our help. We understand their outrage over the smelterís sudden arrival in Newport because we had the same experience in Usk. We share their health concerns because the relationship between poor air quality and asthma, heart, and developmental problems is undeniable.

Second, we have significant concerns about HiTest. We question HiTestís commitment to collaboration in light of its failure to consult with the Tribe before selecting the smelterís Usk location and subsequent failure to meet with local citizens before relocating to Newport. We question HiTestís commitment to transparency due to its failure to disclose the smelterís emissions information for more than a year, failure to notify local citizens of its intent to acquire public property in Newport, and failure to specify the number and average wage of jobs that could actually be filled by local residents. We question HiTestís credibility in light of its attempt to use improper data to model the smelterís air quality impacts, and its assertion that the Governor can authorize all permits required to build and operate the plant. If these actions were mistakes, we question HiTestís commitment to care and diligence. These are not questions we should have of an employer who is supposed to be the bedrock of our community for years to come.

Third, we are concerned about regulatory compliance. Even if HiTestís air quality modeling suggests that its emissions will meet applicable regulations, there is a possibility that its actual emissions will not. By that time, the $300 million facility will have been built and be, for all intents and purposes, too big to fail. HiTest will be given time and leeway to fix any emission violations. Monitoring corrective actions will take even more time. In short, our community may have to endure elevated levels of air pollution for years before the smelterís actual emissions are adequately controlled or the facility is shut down.

Fourth, Pend Oreille County doesnít need HiTest to revitalize its economy. The smelter came to our region for its cheap electricity and strategic location. Plenty of other companies would be attracted by these attributes if we, as a community, took the time to find them. The Tribe is actively working with community leaders to revitalize the local economy through our participation on the Economic Development Council and is committed to attracting new businesses to Pend Oreille County.

The Tribe does not blame the county commissioners for their interest in the smelter as advertised by HiTest. However, we call on them to revisit their position now that they have a better understanding of the human and environmental costs of the smelter, and are hearing vigorous opposition to the smelter from their electorate. There is a solution at hand because the property HiTest acquired is zoned as public land, which designation prohibits industrial development and cannot be changed without an amendment to the countyís comprehensive plan. As the county is under no obligation to modify its comprehensive plan, the Tribe urges them to take advantage of this out.

KALISPEL

TRIBAL COUNCIL

Newport, Wash.

Print Article

Read More Letters to the Editor

Donít be silent when it comes to animal abuse

December 14, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee Driving to town Saturday, Dec. 9, I noticed a beautiful calico cat on the Long Bridge that had apparently been hit by a car. This is the third cat Iíve seen killed on the Long Bridge. I doubt that ca...

Comments

Read More

Downtown business should post Ďage appropriateí signs

December 14, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee I am taking pen to paper to state my opinion on a retailer in our community. This business is located in beautiful (downtown)†Sandpoint ... The store has very vulgar and inappropriate language on th...

Comments

Read More

Evidence lacking in Citizensí Climate Lobby claims

December 14, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee Truth was in short supply at the Citizens' Climate Lobby, held at Community Hall on Friday, Nov. 17. Out of sheer curiosity, I attended the meeting, having braced myself against what I knew would be ...

Comments

Read More

GOP tax plan adds to wealth gap between rich, others

December 12, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee Make no mistake. The current Republican plan to change the tax code is to give huge tax reductions to their political donors, in spite of resulting debt increases. After years of saying deficits are...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 263-9534
PO Box 159
Sandpoint, ID 83864

©2017 Bonner County Daily Bee Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X