Letters to the Editor

Smelter project doesn’t fit forest health

From the Washington DNR website, “20-Year Forest Health Strategic Plan — Eastern Washington”: “Much of the 10 million acres of forestland in eastern Washington faces serious threats to forest health.” The plan’s mission: “Restore and manage forested landscapes at a pace and scale that reduces the risk of uncharacteristic wildfires and increases the health and resilience of forest and aquatic ecosystems in a changing climate for rural communities and the people of Washington state.”

So, how does Gov. Inslee’s Newport Silicon Smelter project of “statewide significance” fit with this plan? The HiTest/PacWest 105-megawatt smelter will use coal, wood chips, and quartz to produce silicon metal. Annual estimated emissions include: 320 tons greenhouse gases, 760 tons sulfur dioxide, 700 tons nitrogen oxides, 601 tons carbon monoxide, 111 tons particulate matter, and other toxins. The carbon footprint will be tremendous.

The smelter sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions will produce acid rain, exacerbating current forest health problems and acidifying our rivers, lakes and streams. With increasing forest fire risks, the air quality in Newport and surrounding areas will become dangerous. Last Labor Day (2017), forest fires triggered nearby Sandpoint Idaho’s EPA Air Quality Index (AQI) rating of 418 to be worst in the nation.

The already threatened inland rain forest and the rare Mountain Caribou of the Selkirk Mountains will suffer an untold fate.

In addition to misinformation, secrecy, and lack of citizen input, Inland Northeast citizens must endure this toxic project that contradicts Washington’s “Forest Health Strategic Plan” and has Gov. Inslee’s endorsement.