For the week of July 15 thru July 21, 1998  

Beware of hogs bearing gifts

Idaho ought to be called "The state that will do anything for a buck."

With its small population and sparse representation in Congress, it is the perennial victim of a nation that wrongly believes no one lives here.

Look at the record.

A nuclear waste repository is the underpinning of the Idaho Falls’ economy.

The Air Force, with its screaming jets, laser bombs and chaff, fuels Mountain Home’s economic engine.

FMC near Pocatello is the major producer of some of the state’s most polluted air.

Lewiston’s Potlatch pulp mill literally makes that city stink.

Wallace and Kellogg are moonscapes of old mine tailings. Just decades ago, children in the region suffered from airborne lead released from a smelter. Lake Coeur d’ Alene is polluted by heavy metals.

McCall’s Payette Lake is in danger from algae blooms, the result of runoff from heavily fertilized vacation-home lawns.

Long stretches of the Snake River are polluted by runoff from industrial and agricultural operations.

Salmon runs have been wiped out by dams, in exchange for cheap power.

Given this history, it should be no surprise that well-heeled Midwest investors want to put a quarter million hogs—that’s one hog for every four residents- in the state--in 50 cement-lined barns on state lands in Owyhee County.

The hog industry has a deservedly bad reputation. Operations in other states have fouled streams and groundwater, and choked residents.

One hog produces two to four times as much waste as a human—awesome excrement.

Hog factory promoters claim technology will fix everything, with cement-lined waste lagoons and methane gas recapture units, even though the technology has not been proven to work on such a large scale.

Idaho has heard claims like this before from mining companies whose ponds of chemical-leaching solutions cracked and released spills into pristine streams.

Ironically, Ron Achs, the Chicago promoter of this mess-waiting-to happen, is the same man who led Warm Springs homeowners to oppose a 54-unit apartment complex in his neighborhood because he claimed it would destroy his quality of life.

It now looks like his concern for quality of life is limited to his very small backyard.

Boss hog promises to produce hundreds of thousands of dollars for Idaho schools from lease payments for state lands. The Idaho Land Board will decide whether to lease the thousands of acres necessary.

The state should beware of hogs bearing gifts. It should quit doing anything for a buck. Instead, the Land Board should make the buck stop there.


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