Shame on all of the people, organizations and agencies that have such hot pants for untamed growth (spelled $$$) that they would support an industrial plant 550 feet from residential housing.
Shame on Pullman’s Garth Mader, of Ag TechOS, for proposing that property next to the Whispering Hill Subdivision be reclassified from residential to heavy industrial.
Shame on the Port of Whitman for agreeing to purchase the land and build infrastructure with $1.25 million from local taxes and a $5 million loan from the state of Washington.
Shame on Gov. Jay Inslee for coming to Pullman to boost the project. Two weeks ago he declared: “This is a win-win-win, Cougars leading the way and I couldn’t be more excited about it.”
Well, more than 1,000 Pullman residents also couldn’t be more excited about it.
They are excited that a biodiesel project practically next door will odorize and drive down the value of homes in the Whispering Hills.
Heavy industrial zones don’t belong adjacent to residential housing, no matter what industrial activities might be involved.
The proposed 550-foot buffer qualifies as adjacent, which Merriam-Webster defines as “not distant: NEARBY.” That’s roughly as long as 1.5 football fields.
Be assured that any odors from crushing and pressing canola seed to make diesel fuel will outrun a speedy track star. Stay tuned.
Time out for a caveat. During an 11-year newspaper career I was western states vice president of the Newspaper Farm Editors of America.
Subsequently, as a Washington State University faculty member I shared agricultural science information with the public for 32 years.
One might logically conclude that I’m a bit pro-agriculture. I’m also pro-biodiesel.
This proposal reminds me of the time, 54 years ago, when I sat between two arguing farmers at a dinner meeting in Yakima.
One complained about nearby urban encroachment on farmland. The other protested efforts to preserve farmland near cities.
Whether the proposed biodiesel plant is a win-win depends on where one sits. It may well be a win-win for farmers, but it is a lose-lose for nearby city residents.
In a very few minutes my Google search found more academic articles on odor problems produced at biodiesel plants than I could read in a month of Sundays.
No doubt the technology to reduce unpleasant odors has been improved over the years, but the plants still produce odor that are obnoxious to city folks and prevailing winds will blow them right into Whispering Hills subdivision.
It appears that the main reason proponents want the proposed plant next to Whispering Hills is so it can tap into Pullman’s water system.
This comes as Pullman residents are being asked to conserve water in their kitchens, bathrooms and yards. There has long been a concern about the diminishing aquifer from which Moscow and Pullman get their water.
As we “speak,” plans are being made to inject water from the South Fork of the Palouse River into the declining aquifer. It is projected that setting up the system will cost $74 million.
Residents are assured that there is enough water.
That’s what residents in the Southwest were told, even though more water was allocated in the Colorado River than exists. Now they are discovering that water has been vastly over allocated.
The biodiesel plan exemplifies the common practice of adding up all the positives while ignoring the negatives of a project. Indeed, not even looking for negatives.
In good faith, residents made large investments in Whispering Hills homes. Approval of the biodiesel plant in the proposed location would be a slap in the face of Whispering Hills residents.
And it would reverberate throughout the community, giving residents reasons to question whether they can have confidence that the city won’t destroy their neighborhoods in the name of progress.
Day is a retired Washington State faculty member and a Pullman resident since 1972. He enjoys a lifelong interest in agriculture, history, law, politics and religion. He encourages email to email@example.com.