Editor’s note: Today’s editorial was written by former District Court judge and Kalama resident Ed Putka. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.

I’m an environmentalist. I grew up near a polluted river and dirty air from steel mills.

I have seen the positive effect of the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. I recycle regularly and am careful about which consumer products I buy. I drive a hybrid car and have taught my children to respect the earth. I also support the new Kalama Methanol Project proposed by Northwest Innovation Works.

I come to my support of the project using the same skills that served me well as your elected judge in our county for 18 years: do the research, listen to the arguments, assess the credibility of the witnesses and make a decision based on the facts. As with many legal proceedings, there is no one absolute correct answer or truth, but there is usually one thing more clearly true than the other.

The truth here is that the proposed project sets the environmental standard for industry locating on the Columbia River. Contrary to the opponents’ assertions, it will not use up all our water. The source is an existing and new well at the port. Wastewater will not go into the river but will be recycled and reused at the facility. Nor will the plant overburden our power system. The Cowlitz PUD has attested to its capacity to provide power with the NWIW paying for any upgrades to the transmission system. Through the use of ultra-low emissions technology, there will be no significant toxic air. The methanol will not explode. Methanol is alcohol, not crude oil, and it will not be stored in pressurized tanks.

From a global perspective it is significant that one of the major partners in this venture is the Chinese Academy of Science. The end product, methanol, is now produced in China by burning coal, causing substantial Green House Gas emissions. Methanol produced here by converting natural gas, and sold to China, reduces world-wide air pollution.

After rigorous in-depth review, the various permitting agencies have approved the project. It is supported by environmental-friendly Governor Jay Inslee and all of our Congressional and State Representatives.

I have attended the public hearings and understand there are people opposed to this plant. They seem to fall into two categories. The first are those engaged in casually informed reasoning. Social media appears to be a frequent reference tool and their arguments don’t stand up well to close analysis.

The more serious opponents are well-informed and articulate. While I admire their dedication, I hesitate about their methods to achieve them. Dedicated environmentalists tend to view all industry as the enemy. But all industry, like all court cases, are not the same.

Good industries know that you can be profitable and environmentally responsible at the same time. Good industries know it is cheaper to pay up-front for prevention than afterwards for cleanup. Good industries want to be responsible corporate citizens.

This is a good project worthy of our support. You do not have to abdicate environmentalist principles to be on board. This is a positive step toward those very principles.

Ed Putka


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