Monday, September 25

What are the current emissions?

Central to the arguments of most of the opponents to the building of the Highwood Generating Station is that this new plant will significantly pollute our virgin environment here in Cascade County.

This argument leads me to ask for some firm data about the state of the current environment in that area.

We already process fossil fuels here. In addition to the tens of thousands of cars and trucks driving around Great Falls, there is already a coal-burning plant on Malmstrom AFB and a fuel refinery along the river. What are the environmental impacts of these factors? How much of a difference will the Highwood Generating Station make to our environment, after factoring in those inputs?

When I was a kid, the signature feature of our fair city was the Anaconda Smokestack. One of the tallest structures in the world, you could see it when driving to Great Falls from at least 75 miles away. This plant was the foundation of our economy and one of the main reasons for our city to be built.

That copper smelting plant was much dirtier than any coal plant would ever be. I am not saying that we should build anything, environment to be damned; but I am saying that we need to build.

Let's cut to the chase; the Highwood Generating Station finally begins to rebuild that economy. This is about people and jobs. I am convinced that the technology being used to build that plant is just about as clean as is possible with the burning of coal. We should not be hasty about denying our community this opportunity for real and sustainable growth.

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