Monday, May 27, 2024

Letters to the editor April 21

| April 21, 2024 12:00 AM

Open dialogue

It seems a bit disingenuous to endorse the call for a city wide dialogue on the Warming Center, but warn any criticism of the Warming Center will mean you are not a humanitarian.  

I worked with Councilor Chad Graham on the Planning Board and I don’t always agree with Chad, but he does have institutional knowledge of the processes.  If Chad recalls being assured by the Warming Center of those areas which now concern him and his constituents, I would look first to the recorded oral minutes of all the meetings and all the written documents before I challenged his recollections.

It cannot be denied his constituents have reached out to him about their concerns and the impact the Warming Center has had on them. It’s clear his constituents feel threatened and silenced by the Warming Centers ferocious defense for its existence and for just that reason, it’s impossible for Chad’s constituents to have open dialogue without facing character assassination.

Graham is simply doing his job responding to his constituents concerns and complaints about the Warming Center and asking for an opportunity for dialogue. Stop pointing fingers at Graham’s constituents and start looking at their issues too. Resolutions and understanding occurs when everything is on the table and respect for each other’s concerns is paramount and name calling and shaming are left at the door.

— Karlene Khor, Kalispell

Corporate responsibility

A foreign company, Glencore, with a troubling track record of poor corporate responsibility, has major holdings in the headwaters of both the Kootenai and Flathead drainages.

The Switzerland-based multinational conglomerate Glencore is responsible for cleaning up legacy pollution from the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company plant on the Flathead River at a cost of nearly $1 billion, according to recent Environmental Protection Agency estimates. It is also attempting to acquire coal mines in British Columbia which are releasing elevated amounts of selenium into Lake Koocanusa. An independent study found that cleaning up that mess may cost $4.7 billion.

As a former Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries manager for this area, I can attest that both river systems — the Flathead and Kootenai — don’t need any more pollution. Pressures from increased population, climate change and other factors are already stressing our fish populations.

Glencore has a mixed history of corporate responsibility. A recent report from the government of British Columbia shows the company is underbonded on mines it owns in the province, and its guilty plea on foreign bribery and market manipulation charges in the United States related to contracts and fuel oil price fixing resulted in a $1 billion fine.

Montana derives no jobs or significant economic benefits from either CFAC or the mines in Canada, just pollution. As Montanans we try to balance conservation and natural resource development but in this case the scales are tipped in favor of a foreign company.

What’s the solution? We need to make sure the processes that are underway — both a complete cleanup of CFAC overseen by the EPA and the bilateral U.S.-Canada IJC referral for the Kootenai River — deliver real results for Montana. Montana must have a seat at the table in both cases to ensure we don’t get left holding the bag.

— Jim Vashro, Kalispell