WA Governor Asks Silicon Company For Better Communication On Proposed Smelter

Nov 2, 2019

Site of proposed silicon smelter.
Credit Selkirk Conservation Alliance

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has sent a letter to PacWest Silicon, the company that hopes to build a silicon smelter in Pend Oreille County, asking for better communication from the company about its intentions.

In the introduction the governor says he “takes seriously the community opposition to the proposed silicon smelter project” and that as “opposition grows, it appears PacWest is communicating less with the community, tribal and local and state governments.”

Inslee questions if PacWest Silicon may be reevaluating whether to move ahead with the project and says he wants the company to provide an update on the current state of the project.

Although the company has touted the project as potentially bringing 200 good paying jobs to the Newport area, opposition has been strong. That resistance centers on environmental concerns about what the smelter would bring to the region.

Phyllis Kardos of the group Responsible Growth NE Washington says she appreciates the fact the governor is recognizing the community has serious concerns with the project.

“After two years he finally heard us, and I think the first part of the letter, where he says I take seriously the community opposition to your silicon smelter project in Pend Oreille County, just grabbed me. I mean it just told me he heard our comments and we’re grateful for the letter at this point,” Kardos said.

PacWest Silicon chief executive officer Jayson Tymko told SPR that his company has tried to keep the lines of communication open with state officials and met just last month with Commerce Department Secretary Lisa Brown. He says they have also offered to meet several times with Kalispel tribal officials, who turned down the offer.

Tymko describes PacWest as a “patient landowner” that is waiting for Pend Oreille County to complete a rezoning effort before the company moves forward with the project. He says it has invested $27 million into the project so far and fully intends to go through with the planned smelter.