Anti-smelter groups will take land sale to WA Supreme Court

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

Citizen groups opposed to the Newport, Wash., silicon smelter have announced they will appeal to the Washington Supreme Court in a case against the Pend Oreille County Public Utility District regarding the agency’s land sale to the company behind the smelter.

Responsible Growth*NE Washington and Citizens Against the Newport Silicon Smelter filed the lawsuit against the PUD, Pend Oreille County and HiTest Sand, Inc. — the parent company of smelter creator PacWest — alleging that PUD officials violated the law by selling the land on which the smelter is planned to be built. The case has seen Spokane Superior Court and the Division 3 Court of Appeals in Washington state, and both courts upheld the land sale. 

RG*NEW representative Tracy Morgan confirmed July 2 that the court of appeals opinion had officially been published, and that the anti-smelter groups plan to file a petition for review with the Washington Supreme Court.

“We still stand strong with the Kalispel Tribe, Sierra Club and dozens of other entities in keeping this dirty industry from polluting our air and water and imperilling citizens’ health and future,” Morgan wrote in an email to the Sandpoint Reader.

When the Washington state court of appeals issued its unpublished opinion in favor of the PUD in April, Spokane-based attorney Rick Eichstaedt — who represents the anti-smelter groups — told the Reader he believed the decision set “a dangerous precedent.”

“We disagree with the opinion in large part because, essentially, what the court of appeals said is that a public utility district can — after the fact, after a property has been purchased or sold — come up with an excuse for why those actions occurred,” he said.

RG*NEW and CANSS have until Aug. 2 to file a petition for review with the Washington Supreme Court.

Apart from the lawsuit, PacWest has announced that the smelter project is “on hold” as the company waits for Pend Oreille County to rezone its land for industrial use.

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