Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Using our voices to fight

People with little more than strong, well-informed opinions can be giant-killers when they put their minds to it. Monster retailer Wal-Mart has seen some of its planned stores turned back by community opposition.

That sort of opportunity now presents itself to everyone in Blaine County dedicated to preserving the Wood River Valley's enormously valuable environment.

California-based electricity-producer Sempra Energy is moving forward to build a coal-fired, 600-megawatt power plant in Jerome County, a facility whose downwind emissions are bound to affect air and water in Central Idaho.

In hopes of educating the public on the Sempra plant, three area lawmakers—state Sen. Clint Stennett and state Reps. Wendy Jaquet and Donna Pence—will host two information sessions Wednesday, Dec. 7, on the plant's impacts. One will be at 5 p.m. in the Sun Valley Inn's Limelight Room, the other at 7:30 p.m. in the Rotary Room of the Community Campus in Hailey. Panelists will outline the effects of plant emissions and the process for approval controlled by just three Jerome County commissioners and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

The Sempra conglomerate is involved in controversy elsewhere: Lawsuits in California allege billions of dollars in manipulated energy prices by one of its divisions, and a California ban on imported power could affect a Sempra coal-fired plant in Nevada and possibly in Idaho.

We urge Blaine residents concerned about the health and welfare of their environment to attend the Dec. 7 sessions, learn the risks of the plant and prepare to mobilize against a project designed to produce energy for export, but leave the Wood River Valley's environment poorer for the experience.

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