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Kalispel Tribe Passes Resolution Opposing Proposed Smelter

The Kalispel Tribe is taking a stand against a proposed smelter that could be built in Newport, Washington. On Monday, November 27, the tribe’s governing council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the HiTest Silicon smelter. Several local lawmakers, including Pend Oreille county commissioners, have promoted the plant as bringing as many as 150 high paying jobs to the community.

The tribe is concerned that the proposed facility will sacrifice the health of future generations. Tribal officials cite figures from HiTest’s own draft modeling that shows the plant would emit about 320,000 tons of greenhouse gases, 760 tons of sulfur dioxide and 700 tons of nitrogen oxide each year.

“That is the equivalent of 65,000 cars driving 11,000 miles per year, in a circle, around the town of Newport. It’s a significant amount of greenhouse gas," said Dean Osterman, the Kalispel Tribe's natural resources executive director. "The sulfur dioxide is equivalent to 165,000 wood stoves, burning at a single point.”

Osterman says that amount of pollution may still be acceptable to Washington state officials in their permitting process.

Tribal officials also question HiTest’s commitment to collaborate with the community. They say the company failed to consult with the tribe when it originally selected the town of Usk -- on the Kalispel reservation -- as an initial site for the plant. They also question HiTest’s commitment to transparency, after it failed to disclose the emissions information for a year, and failed to meet with local citizens before choosing the Newport site.
The tribe is asking the county commissioners to reconsider their support for the smelter, now that the environmental projections have been released.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.
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