City cancels biomass forum

Sequim Gazette staff

Sequim city councilors canceled a planned May 14 forum on the biomass cogeneration plant now under construction at Nippon’s Port Angeles paper mill.


Prior to the council’s regular meeting on Monday, April 23, Nippon mill manager Harold Norlund told the councilors his firm has the permits in hand and construction of the facility is continuing.


He said the start-up is anticipated in April 2013.


In a later discussion of the forum, Councilor Erik Erichsen said Nippon has met all the requirements of law and further noted that the matter is beyond the city council’s jurisdiction. He said the council had “more pertinent” items to discuss, declaring the planned forum “frivolous.”


Councilor Candace Pratt agreed to cancel the forum but added, “I don’t see it as frivolous that people are concerned about their health.” She added that the city isn’t well-suited to discuss the issues and that another organization — perhaps the American Lung Association — would be better.


Councilor Laura Dubois suggested the council could lobby the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency for a monitoring system.


An April 24 statement from the Clallam County Healthy Air Coalition said the cancellation “shocked” local residents and members of the coalition.


They further noted that “neither Norlund’s appearance nor the vote on the public forum had appeared in the agenda posted on the city’s web page.”


“It’s a sad day for open government and a balanced approach to decision making,” said Port Angeles environmental lawyer Shirley Nixon. She said addressing a controversial issue and taking action without advance notice is “a tried and true tactic for hoodwinking the public.”


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