Biomass protesters brave the cold

People who oppose a proposed biomass plant in downtown Vancouver showed up as promised outside of Battle Ground City Hall Tuesday evening, where Clark County commissioners were having a meeting.

Photographer Gerald Bartlett sent in this image of the city hall occupiers.


The protestors included Hough residents Joe Cotton and Steve Valenta, whose biomass plant costumes were unveiled on Halloween.

From left to right: Cotton, Edie Cotton (back row), Chris Collmer, Gary Cotton (back row), Sarah Collmer, Tracy Hill (back row) and Valenta. The girls in front are Lucy Collmer, 4, and Vivian Collmer, 2.

The commissioners, who typically meet at the Clark County Public Service Center in downtown Vancouver, were having a special meeting in Battle Ground to accommodate north county residents.

While Schneider Electric, the company (owned by a French company, note the flags on the costumes) fights the city of Vancouver in Clark County Superior Court over land-use issues, commissioners want to “pause” work on the project. In a Nov. 1 memo from Clark County Administrator Bill Barron to David Palmer of Schneider Electric, Barron asks for a 90-day period in which the county’s liability will be locked in at $225,000 even if the project is terminated.

The county’s maximum liability is $395,000.

On Monday, Palmer said the heating plant, if approved at the proposed site west of the Clark County Jail, would bring $3 million in new tax revenues to the city (real estate excise and sales taxes), nearly 60 construction jobs and $11 million in value to county taxpayers.

Palmer has said the plant will not pose a health risk; a hearing examiner, Sharon Rice, who ruled in favor of the project said “the proposed biomass plant would have a lower combustion source capacity than the existing Frito-Lay plant and the SEH America silicon wafer manufacturing plant.”

“The record contains no evidence that suggests substantially greater impacts in any regard than the existing and permitted uses in the vicinity,” Rice wrote.

Palmer said Monday that the plant will be a step forward in the redevelopment of downtown Vancouver,” Palmer said. “In fact, we are planning to utilize an innovative federal tax credit only available to projects that will revitalize areas that are categorized as economically distressed such as this one.”

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