Twin smokestacks belching black smoke. “DOWNWIND” and “poison air” in the brightest red ink the Reader can lay down. An ominous black arrow pointing at Sandpoint. The message in the anonymous ad on the back cover of the May 24 issue is clear and grim, but lacking in facts. Instead, it points to a website, StopTheSmelter.com to “Get The Facts.” That website — also anonymous — features the same unidentified image of belching smoke along with pleas for money for CANSS, Citizens Against the Newport Silicon Smelter, so maybe they are the authors.
I searched the website for the location of those erupting smokestacks, but that fact was missing. The site does include a helpful link to Ramboll Environ’s proposal for predicting how plant emissions will be carried by the wind. That work is not done yet, but their proposal includes a historical wind rose for the plant site — i.e. the direction the wind has blown in the past. Is Sandpoint really downwind of Newport? Well, yes, almost 3 percent of the time. Far more often the wind has blown to the north over the Selkirks (12 percent), or south-southeast through south-southwest toward Coeur d’Alene, Spokane Valley or Spokane (about 10 percent each).
Smelter opponents squander their credibility by publishing such fiction. I sympathize with the anonymous writers on one thing however: not in my backyard. Put those smelters in Alabama or Mississippi with the rest of them. Better yet, put them nowhere. Let the price of solar cells drift upward and save us from the clutter of solar arrays on our roadways.