To the Pend Oreille County commissioners,
I live in Sandpoint, due west of Newport. I moved here from southern Arizona 14 years ago to enjoy the plentiful clean water and air afforded me in this somewhat remote part of the country. The uncrowded town sitting along side such a beautiful lake is only surpassed by the kind nature of the people who live here. The Arizona we left had become crowded and polluted, Tucson was over a million people and growing, they have no idea where fresh water will come from in the next 25 years. I grew up breathing the smoke from the copper smelters going 24/7, filling once gorgeous remote valleys with the toxic smoke they create. That was the key, they got away with it because the smelters were in remote spots.
Why your county would even consider allowing a Canadian mining firm to come into our pristine country and erect a 150-foot smokestack/smelter in the Newport area is beyond belief. Perhaps the prevailing westerly winds carrying the toxic smut on into North Idaho, the 38 miles to Sandpoint, Priest Lake, and Lake Pend Oreille, makes you feel safe that your community won’t have to suffer the consequences of its ingestion all year long. Silicon, really!
I can tell you the people of Bonner County and the state of Idaho are going to have a say in this project’s advancement. We have suffered through the wildfire smoke the last few summers and do not intend to allow your county’s seemingly dishonest decision to allow this enterprise to destroy our quality of life here as your downwind neighbor. The smoke from this smelter will recreate the wildfire smoke disaster we experienced last summer everyday all year for the foreseeable future. The economic loss to tourism and property values here will be astronomical, so that your county can add 150 proposed jobs smelting a Canadian company’s ore. Really? Why the heck don’t they build the facility in their country? Could it be they want to use the silicon to manufacture solar panels in Washington’s plan to convert the state to renewable energy? This whole mess has a sinister smell.
I ask you to reconsider building this smelter for the damage you will do to the region especially your neighbors over here. It’s selfish and morally criminal to even consider.
ROBERT B. JOHNSON