Here's a draft of our Wednesday editorial:
At some point — perhaps after providing Dynamis Energy $2 million of public money — two of Ada County’s commissioners went from elected arbiters to unabashed advocates.
It is abundantly clear that Sharon Ullman and Rick Yzaguirre see themselves as facilitators. Or cheerleaders. Their job, as they see it, is to get this waste-to-energy project up and running, in spite of public outcry and unanswered questions.
But Ullman and Yzaguirre are the boosters who can’t get their stories straight — as we’ve seen twice last week:
• Last week, Ullman and Yzaguirre amended the lease for the project site, where Dynamis proposes to build a plant to super-heat 408 tons of garbage daily, producing 22 megawatts of electricity to sell to Idaho Power. The project’s county landfill footprint will increase from 6.9 acres to 9.72 acres.
But it’s unclear why. Ullman downplays the change, saying it affects a mere fraction of the 2,700-acre landfill. But newly appointed Commissioner David Case — who has emerged as the lonely voice of reason on this proposal — pointed to an Aug. 6 email from landfill director Ted Hutchinson. In it, Hutchinson says Dynamis considered the original lease terms problematic, jeopardizing its ability to secure an air quality permit from the state Department of Environmental Quality.
In other words, if you can’t make the project cleaner, just make the project site bigger. And Ullman and Yzaguirre eagerly signed on.
• Ullman and Yzaguirre also outvoted Case, who sought an independent, third-party review of the project, as suggested by the county’s own engineer.
A common-sense proposal, but Yzaguirre rejected it, saying the DEQ’s permitting process will suffice.
Not so. And that isn’t our opinion. It’s DEQ’s opinion. DEQ’s job is important, but the agency recognizes the limitations of its scope: to review potential air emissions.
“It is not our responsibility to ensure the technology works. We are not looking at the risk or safety of the equipment or the equipment’s explosive hazards or things like that. We are looking at it from an emissions source standpoint,” DEQ air quality administrator Mike Simon said.
The problem with a third-party review is that it would take time. Even if, ultimately, the design passed a review, any delays could compromise Dynamis’ ability to get a plant online, and producing electricity for Idaho Power, by its February 2014 deadline.
So Dynamis wants to get moving. And Ullman and Yzaguirre have decided that it is their job and mission to accommodate Dynamis’ desires — no matter how many bad decisions or misstatements they have to make along the way.