Hot Topic: Silica Smelter Proposal Near North Idaho
Just across Idaho’s western border, in Newport, WA, the Canadian company HiTest Sand recently issued a proposal to construct a smelter that would smelt silica sand to create silicone metal. This process gives off nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and other harmful air pollutants that, given prevailing winds, would likely be blown into North Idaho. Meanwhile, many of the economic benefits of this facility would only go to Washington state.
Air pollution in this part of Idaho can be particularly harmful because inversions can trap pollutants for longer than normal periods of time—making the air unhealthy for people to breathe, especially for young children and the elderly. That’s why ICL is closely monitoring this proposal and encouraging folks in the area to advocate that HiTest Sand collect site-specific weather and air quality data for a full year that will help us analyze the potential air pollution impacts from their facility.
Protecting the Air You Breathe
Everyone deserves to breathe clean, healthy air, which is why clean air is at the heart of a lot of ICL’s work. It’s part of the reason we serve on eight different forest collaborative groups to build healthy, resilient forests better suited to handle wildfires and climate change. It drives our ambition to make Idaho a leader in renewable energy. And it’s the reason we strive to protect public health—by working to reduce air pollution from industrial activity and tracking any new laws or regulations that impact the air you breathe.
Idaho is known for our clean air, but it will only stay clean if we continue to protect it. Everyone can make choices that will improve the air around them—from choosing different transportation options to doing our part to prevent forest fires. If you’d like to learn more about what you can do right now to improve air quality, check out our most current work on air issues in Idaho:
- Protecting clean air
- Forest fires
- Coal-free future
- Crop residue burning
- Reducing impacts from transportation
- Light pollution
Read about ICL’s work to protect your clean air by preventing tons of toxic pollution from a trash burning facility, convincing stakeholders to close a coal plant, and many other successes.