The following is a chronological list of events leading up to the Selling of Public Property to HiTest Sands, Inc., a Silicon Smelter Manufacturing Industry in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, by POC Public Utilities District #1. The property was purchased by HiTest Sands for the proposed purpose of building a 2 stack, $300 million Silicon Smelter facility. HiTest is now known as PacWest Silicon.
Spring 2015 PUD receives from HiTest a request to “prepare a proposal for power sales to the smelter.”
Jan – HiTest approaches State Rep. Shelly Short “about locating a smelter in Northwest Alloy site in Addy.”
May 11 – Glen Nenema, Chairman, Kalispel Business Council to Michelle Pirzadeh, Acting Administrator, Region 10, Environmental Protection Agency, requesting from EPA “approval of our proposal to re-designate the lands within the exterior boundaries of the original Kalispel Indian Reservation a Class I area under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program….due to an imminent threat and consistent with the Tribe’s longstanding efforts to protect our home from environmental pollution.”
May 12 – “Concerned citizens of Golden, B.C. and Area A” lodge a protest over the promotion of this silicon smelter without “a critical analysis of its potential on the environment and tourism and recreation industries.”
Jul 6 – “announced that it has completed the purchase of the Horse Creek Mineral Lease…in Golden, British Columbia, a Silica ore mine containing 99.82% Si02 purity.”
Aug 19 – WA Department of Commerce announces “that a new $300 million silicon smelting facility proposed for Usk, WA has been designated a “Project of Statewide Significance and will receive $300,000 in economic assistance through Pend Oreille Economic Development Council.”
Aug 24 – HiTest Land, Inc. rejects British Columbia’s offer to “process the silica sand that is mined in the region due to higher electrical prices, construction costs and Golden’s remote location, which made the site not economically viable.”
Sep 7 – Notice of Sale, Surplus Real Estate Properties for Sale, Public Utility District No.1 of Pend Oreille County. Three tax parcels equally 172.47 acres located about one-half mile south of the Newport City limits. Fair Market value: $245,000.
Nov. – Pend Oreille County receives $250,000 grant from the WA State Dept. of Commerce for advanced planning of the Proposed HiTest site south of Usk.”
Nov 14 – POC Commissioners’ letter to Mr. Jayson Tymko, CEO, HiTest Sand, Inc. “Our entire community, especially the Kalispel Tribe is very anxious to learn more about the facility and the sooner we can start to answer their questions the better….As you proceed, we would like to reaffirm our commitment of October 12th to assist you in any way we can with planning, design, and permitting of your project.” (this letter was in reference to the Usk site).
Feb – HiTest Sand will not be building a $300 million smelter in Pend Oreille County. HiTest smelter going to Addy.”
Feb – Kalispel Indian Reservation Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program: Class 1 Redesignation Technical Report, Usk, WA prepared by Ridolfi Environment is completed.
Jun 7 – PUD’s “Willenbrock says HiTest is looking at a site south of Newport on land owned by the PUD and Pend Oreille County.
Jun 14 – “Jayson Tympko, president of HiTest Sands, Inc.,…was in Newport Monday, June 12th.” Met in the Newport Miner office with Commissioner Mike Manus, Gregg Dohrn, Sen. Shelly Short and publisher Michelle Nedved.
Jun 20 – Pend Oreille County, Newport, WA Resolution No. 2017-22. “The Pend Oreille County Treasurer is authorized to sell Assessor’s Parcel No. 19182 by direct negotiations with the Pend Oreille County PUD no later than August 15, 2017, for a minimum price equal to the total appraised value.”
July 5 – HiTest a Canadian Company receives $300,000.00 from the EDC.
July 11 – The Pend Oreille County signs the 2017-26 Amendment to sell the County property
Aug 2 – The Pend Oreille County Public Utility District (PUD) buys the County property.
Sep 18 – HiTest gives the Pend Oreille County Public Utility District $300,000 for the Public property the PUD paid $693,560.00 for.
Oct 4 – J. Tymko stated in Miner’s article – “The plan is to start the permitting process now and to have the plant up for a test run by Sept. 20, 2019”. As of October 10, 2019, still, no shovel has been turned over.
Oct 29 – First Public Meeting at the Roxy.
Nov – 2nd Public Meeting at the Roxy Meeting
Nov 27 – Kalispell Tribe opposed the smelter
Nov 27 – Idaho and Washington Petitions developed & posted FB
Nov 29 – HiTest Public Meeting at High School
Dec 12 – Norm Semanko was our Lawyer
Dec 12 – Letter to Grant Pfeifer, WSDof Ecology from Upper Columbia United Tribes UCUT = CdA, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Kalispell Tribe, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and the Spokane Tribe of Indians
Dec 21 – 1st letter from Norm to Greg Snow regarding zoning of HiTest land does not allow for industrial use.
Jan 29 – Washington State Democratic Central Committee joined the Kalispel Tribe of Indians and the Spokane County Democratic Central Committee in opposing the HiTest silicon smelter project and calls on Governor Jay Inslee and the agencies and subdivisions of the State of Washington to do the same.
Feb 24 – CANSS March through Newport
June 7 – Lawsuit launched
July 01 – Many FIA requests were made and countless emails received and read. One that stands out and a quote is repeated often is “keep this on the down-low” from Mike Manus’s email dated 7.21.16
Oct – SEPA Scoping Public Comment began
March – Estimated emissions from the Newport Smelter are increased significantly by the Washington St. State DOE.
- Judge rules on the CANSS/RG*NEW Lawsuit on the illegal sale of the land sold to PacWest. For review in Legal Efforts.
- Land Appeal Filed Pend Oreille County Planning Commission votes down the Blanket Rezone Amendment proposed by the County Commissioners.
- Appeal Filed on the CANSS/RG*NEW Lawsuit on the illegal sale of the land sold to PacWest.
- PacWest’s Silicon Smelter Project is officially on hold.
- Blanket Rezone Amendment proposed by the County Commissioners pick up steam.
June – It was a slow June.
July – Kalispel Tribe received its Class 1 Air shed Designation
Aug – The Land Sale Appeal Continues.
Sept – Hearing Examiner makes a decision on RG*NEW’S appeal of the SEPA Checklist for the Blanket Rezone Amendments for Pend Oreille County.
Oct – Governor Inslee sends a letter to PacWest.
Nov – It was a quiet month.
Dec – Pend Oreille County Commissioners reject Rezone Amendment.
- Chairmen of the Kalispel Tribe letter – Inslee should revoke smelter support.
It is safe to say 2019 was a year of fighting Pend Oreille Counties’ attempt at rezoning the property currently owned by PacWest. As CANSS second full year in the battle against the smelter closes, we turn our attention to 2020.
The Pend Oreille County Commissioners will continue in finalizing the Comprehensive Plan rewrite as stated when they voted against Amendment CPU-18-001. The Comprehensive Plan rewrite is where our focus needs to be and we’re going to need all of you to be successful. CANSS has said it since the beginning; No Rezone=No Smelter and it is a true statement. If the property isn’t zoned for heavy industry, PacWest cannot build the smelter. It’s the single most important thing in this fight. We cannot let the property be zoned to allow for the Smelter to be permitted.
All along CANSS suspected PacWest wasn’t an honorable company and 2019 proved just that. Every promise they’ve made has fallen short and everyone from Pend Oreille County, The Washington State DOE, PUD and the Governor himself has started to suspect PacWest is less than honorable. The truth always shows itself!
- PacWest responds to Gov. Inslee’s letter dated October 30, 2019.
- The Public Utility District responds to PacWest’s letter.
- In the January 29th issue of the Beacon, PacWest states ‘Smelter Officially on Hold‘ – “the project is not abandoned, it is on hold for the immediate future“.
- The Land Sale Appealwas presented! The panel hearing the appeal consisted of three judges, all being well prepared. Each side had 15 minutes to present their case. Our legal team did an outstanding job. PacWest claims innocence, saying they just purchased the property and had nothing to do with the paperwork. The PUD claims that while the land sale may appear a little out of the ordinary, it was legal in their eyes. We can only hope the judges see it our way, it seems very clear to us, the deal was illegal.
- CANSS continued to keep our attention on the 2020 Pend Oreille County Comprehensive Plan Rewrite. The Comp Plan is the land-use document that determines how County Lands are managed in areas of economics, parks & recreation, transportation, housing, jobs, etc. We encouraged citizens to get involved and stay informed.
- PacWest states ‘smelter project is on hold‘ CANSS believes the smelter is not a done deal, it is just ‘waiting in the wings‘ for Pend Oreille County to complete the Comprehensive Plan rewrite.
- The Land Sale Appeal – continued to wait patiently.
- Pend Oreille County Comprehensive Plan Rewrite Update –Continued
- COVID-19 put a halt on Public Meetings. Meetings were virtual. CANSS continued to keep close eye on things via phone meetings.
- City of Newport Comp Plan is underway and the South Bench project, a new proposed business/industrial Park. CANSS is not against growth, in fact, we encourage growth that is not detrimental to the populace or environment. Our goal is to keep citizens informed. For more info check out the recent River Valley Beacon article by clicking the link below.
- PacWest – CANSS remained dedicated to keeping our eye on any potential developments. We believe this is far from being a done deal! PacWest is just ‘waiting‘ for Pend Oreille County to complete the Comprehensive Plan rewrite.
- The Land Sale Appeal – We anxiously awaited to hear the decision.
- Pend Oreille County Comprehensive Plan Rewrite continued to be vitally important to every landowner in Pend Oreille County. Updates were being done via Zoom conference. CANSS continued keeping a close eye on this by partaking in the Zoom meetings.
- The COVID19 crisis delayed hearing the decision on the Land Appeal in March as we had hoped. CANSS remained determined by keeping a close eye on any activity.
- All of CANSS Public Information Meetings were cancelled.
- On April 21st, our Land Appeal Decision was reached. Unfortunately, it was NOT in our favor. The decision strengthened our determination to oppose the smelter. We remain vigilant, remembering whether PacWest legally owns the property or not, it is not currently zoned for industrial use. PacWest has not applied – let alone been approved – for the multitude of permits that are required to conduct such an operation. We have successfully and repeatedly beaten back PacWest’s efforts to move forward with the smelter. To review the decision go to canss.org
- We had 30 days to allow our legal team to review the case and make a recommendation on the next step to take. We have the utmost faith in Norm Semanko, Rick Eichstaedt, and the rest of the folks at Gonzaga
- PacWest – continues waiting for Pend Oreille County to complete the Comprehensive Plan rewrite.
- Pend Oreille County Comprehensive Plan Rewrite Update – CANSS continued keeping a close eye on this by partaking in the Zoom meetings.
- PacWest – In an article in the Newport Miner, Jayson Tymko, CEO of PacWest Silicon stated, “we continue to wait for the County to be able to do anything regarding zoning and continue to be focused on the smelter and are a patient landowners in Newport”. Check out canss.org.
- The Land Sale Appeal – Our Legal Team filed a motion requesting the Washington Court of Appeals to publish their April 21, 2020 decision upholding the sale from PUD to PacWest even after strong arguments were made that the land purchase was illegal. A published decision will increase the chance that the Court will review the matter allowing us to file a second appeal.
- Pend Oreille County Comprehensive Plan Rewrite Update – Nothing to report
- Leaders in Pend Oreille County came together to explore the county’s economic future. Hopefully, it will be something that will benefit the overall health and welfare of our local and surrounding communities! To learn more click on the link. https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10217177796012781&set=gm.840096206479696
- No public meetings were being conducted, however, it did not mean that business was not being conducted in some form. The PO County Commissioners and the PUD have been doing meetings by Virtual/Teleconference or Zoom.
- The rezoning of public lands and personal property is still underway. There have been no Pend Oreille County Planning Commission meetings, however, when they do begin again, we will be sure to get the word out. CANSS continues to stress how important this issue is, not only to the future of the County but to every resident. You can view the changes being considered by visiting the link. https://pendoreilleco.org/2020-comprehensive-plan-update/
The CANSS Board of Officers debuts newly updated website. A special thank you to Dana and John Lund of Modern Masters who with their expertise made this project a reality! Please visit the new site at org.
- On June 2nd, the Court requested the respondents to reply to the Motion to Publish within 10 days from the date of the letter, if they elect to do so. As of this date, we are still waiting to hear a decision.
To view the court’s letter, please visit: https://canss.org/2020/06/03/motion-request-to-publish-decision/
- CANSS continues to stand firm in our mission by filing a Petition for Review with the Washington Supreme Court of Appeals.
In an article in the Beacon, Greg Snow informed everyone that the Comprehensive Plan draft is now available on the county website for review. Click on the link: https://pendoreilleco.org/2020-comprehensive-plan-update/
The article was a very informative well-written piece, the link to the article: https://www.facebook.com/RiverValleyBeacon/posts/1193313707693752
- Due to COVID-19, the PO County Commissioners, the PUD, and the City of Newport continued to conduct meetings by Virtual/Teleconference or Zoom.
- Our legal battle against the land sale to PacWest cleared a hurdle when the Court of Appeals granted our request to publish its opinion. On July 30, the petition to request the court to hear our appeal of their last ruling on the land sale was filed with the Washington Supreme Court by the Gonzaga law team, Rick Eichstaedt, and Norm Semanko. The answer may take anywhere from 2 months up to a year or so.
- The draft of the Pend Oreille County Comprehensive Plan was available for review at the County website. This plan identifies where industrial and commercial areas will be within the County. Some areas that are currently rural and resource land preserved to timber and agriculture use will also change to a rural designation allowing for housing and commercial use in the future.
- Pend Oreille County needs to conduct a final public hearing on the final draft. This has proven to be difficult with COVID-19 restrictions. However, once done the development regulations will go to the planning commission and then to the county commissioners this fall for approval.
- No Public meetings have been set due to COVID19 on the final draft of the Pend Oreille County Comprehensive Plan.
- During this past month we seen the smoke from nearby fires so thick, you could barely see causing manypeople to stay indoors! CANSS again reminds Citizens if the smelter was operational it would be adding more toxins into the air even during these hazardous air conditions. The Washington State DOE estimates that phase one of the proposed Newport Smelter will emit 766,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year. We continue to state there is NO reason the silicon smelter should even be considered when there are businesses more suited for our beautiful area. Pushing this would be a travesty.
- We continue to wait on our request for the Washington Supreme Court of Appeals to hear our appeal of their last ruling on the land sale filed by the Gonzaga law team and Norm Semanko.
- Pend Oreille County Comprehensive Plan Rewrite Update – The long-awaited Public Meeting has not yet been set. The Comprehensive Plan draft is available on the county website for review. Residents are encouraged to become familiar with the draft by clicking on the link:
- Pend Oreille County- Receives a $50,000 grant for Pend Oreille Business Park Feasibility Study. Read more by clicking on the link: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WADOC/bulletins/2a0b79d?fbclid=IwAR0RnmtJKx-SjD4zV3ZLrcBB2z0t7X_MF6-Md0JUCbZppv5y8ZCsQX1QSp0
- PacWest is still on hold and still unsure how things will turn out for their proposed smelter.
- Pend Oreille Newsprint in Usk, WA closes. Will PacWest reconsider this for their proposed smelter? Time will tell.
- We continued waiting on our request for the Washington Supreme Court to hear our appeal of their last ruling on the land sale between PUD and PacWest.
- The Public meeting for the Pend Oreille County Comprehensive Plan Rewrite has not yet been set. Residents are encouraged to become familiar with the draft by clicking on the link: https://pendoreilleco.org/2020-comprehensive-plan-update/
- It was a quiet month as we awaited our Land Appeal decision.
- The Land Appeal decision was not in our favor. The decision only strengthened our determination to oppose the smelter. CANSS, Norm Semanko and the citizens remain vigilant to meet the smelter proposal at every turn. The proposed smelter property is not zoned for industrial use. PacWest has not applied – let alone been approved – for the multitude of permits that are required to conduct such an operation.
- Pend Oreille County Planning Commission Comp Plan Rewrite is in its final stages with the County working out the details how to hold the required public meeting via Zoom. Residents are encouraged to participate in the public meeting and become familiar with the proposed land use map and zoning changes. To date, PacWest has not applied for or received approval for the numerous permits needed for this endeavor.
In 2021 the proposed smelter is a zoning issue. CANSS, in collaboration with our legal counsel, Norm Semanko, will continue to stand firm in our mission to stop the Newport Silicon Smelter! We could not have gone this far without the help of the Citizens! The Board of CANSS is so grateful for all of you and are committed to this battle we started over three years ago.