Ada County Commissioner Candidates Weigh In On Dynamis Waste To Energy Plant

Nov 5, 2012

Voters in Idaho’s largest county tomorrow will pick two Ada County Commissioners. Republican Dave Case, who was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board this spring, is running against Democrat Tom Howell in District Three.  Jon Howard is the third candidate running in District 3. 

Democrat Larry Rincover and Republican Jim Tibbs are running for the District One seat.

Residents upset with a proposed waste-to-energy project at the county landfill are following these races closely.  Right now, two out of the three current commissioners support the proposal by Eagle-based Dynamis Energy. 

The makeup of the commission could potentially change that project’s direction.  We talked with four of the five candidates about the Dynamis Project. Independent candidate Jon Howard did not respond to our attempts to reach him. 

Dave Case, Republican, Ada County Commissioner Candidate, District 3

Q: What’s your opinion on the Dynamis project, and why?

A: I don’t agree with the project for several reasons. They haven’t allowed the public to give public testimony, either supporting or against the project. And then the questions that have been posed toward the company, there’s been a lack of information from them. And mainly in concern to the safety and welfare of the citizens within the valley. [T]hey’re concerned about the pollution levels that this thing might put out and those questions haven’t been answered.” 

Ada County commissioner candidate Dave Case.
Credit caseforcommissioner.com

Q: If you are elected as county commissioner, you get sworn into office on January 14. How confident are you that a new commission would have any recourse at that point?

A: You have to hold people accountable for their actions. And in this respect, there’s been twice since I’ve been on the commission that I have made a motion for termination of the contract based upon the fact of lack of performance.

There’s timelines that are built into this contract, and because of the fact that Dynamis has not adhered to these timelines, in my opinion they’ve violated the contract. And that’s why I’ve called for the contract to be terminated. Unless things change [by January 14], that contract is still in default . . . In order to make any kind of changes on a three member board you have to have the majority vote, which is at least two votes.

Currently, [the board] doesn’t have those two votes. [The board] just has my vote. So is there anything that the current administration can do? I’m not sure that that will happen. However, there’s a possibility here in two months when we have a new administration that there will be a different viewpoint on that.

Tom Howell, Democrat, Ada County Commissioner Candidate, District 3

Ada County commissioner candidate Tom Howell.
Credit Twitter

Q: What’s your opinion on the Dynamis project, and why?
A:  As it is, I’m opposed to the Dynamis project. It’s just been handled poorly from start to finish for one thing. It is an experimental project on a second hand, and third because we really still don’t know the level of pollution and emission that’s really going to come out of that. So it’s a huge risk for the valley, so there’s absolutely – at this point – no way I could support that project.
 

Q: If you are elected as county commissioner, you get sworn into office on January 14. How confident are you that a new commission would have any recourse at that point?

A: Of course you have to look at the benefits and risks at that point, because there could potentially be long-lasting and costly lawsuits. But, we’ve been lucky so far because the DEQ hasn’t issued any permits yet. And the hope is that that process can be delayed enough so that the new commissioners will have time to actually sit down and pull the building permits which the commission could do at that point . . .

I would imagine that for the new commissioners coming in it would be our first priority to deal with that. The other thing we have to look at that might delay it which might help us is any legal action. With the environmental permits coming through I would imagine the next day or the same day there’s probably going to be a class action lawsuit to try and delay the whole thing . . . enough so that the commissioners could be seated and pull the building permits at that point. [There’s] a good chance we can do something.


Larry Rincover, Democrat, Ada County Commissioner Candidate, District 1

Ada County commissioner candidate Larry Rincover.
Credit larryrincover.com

Q: What’s your opinion on the Dynamis project, and why?

A: I’m against the Dynamis project. I think they’ve been disingenuous and I think they haven’t met the terms of their contract. The county commissioners haven’t asked for an independent study, which I proposed to Rick Yzaguirre on May 30. I suggested to him that they get an independent study to find out what the environmental issues are going to be, impacting Ada County.

He told me at that meeting that he was going to ask the other commissioners for an independent study and if they would go along with it. And then apparently he changed his mind . . . Dynamis hasn’t met their terms of the contract . . . They were supposed to have an agreement in place with Idaho Power by March and they didn’t meet that obligation.

Q: If you are elected as county commissioner, you get sworn into office on January 14. How confident are you that a new commission would have any recourse at that point?

A: And that is a great concern. There was a public meeting a few months back when I made that exact point. The county commissioners, Ullman and Yzaguirre have pushed this thing through, extending the lease, providing additional benefits. They’ve just pushed this thing through to the detriment of Ada County. And they’re not stopping to listen to anybody. So how far along this thing will go, I don’t know. What we’ll be able to do at that time, I don’t know. But I can tell you this: Dynamis has not met the terms of the contract and as far as I’m concerned, that contract should be terminated . . . If they broke a contact and they haven’t met the terms of that contract, then that contract should be voided. Period.


Jim Tibbs, Republican, Ada County Commissioner Candidate, District 1
Q: What’s your opinion on the Dynamis project, and why?

A: I don’t support it for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons is the process. I thought that the county commissioners in 2010 as they processed this, they cut the public out of the process. They didn’t involve other elected officials; they didn’t involve the current waste contractors they didn’t do a third party evaluation to see if the technology even works. They didn’t vet it properly either internally or externally.

There’s still just a lot of unknowns as far as the environmental factors; is it safe, is it clean? And the county has continued to grant changes to the Dynamis contract as well as the franchise agreement and currently Dynamis is in default of the contract and they could be found in default by the county commission . . .

I question the financial viability of the project, the cost effectiveness. There’s just a whole host of issues. And I’m really concerned that if this project progresses much further that as time goes on it becomes more challenging to try to resolve the issue. I have not heard one citizen voice support for the project. The only support that I have heard [is from] the Dynamis people. So I have great concern about the entire project.

Ada County commissioner candidate Jim Tibbs.
Credit tibbsforadacounty.com

Q: If you are elected as county commissioner, you get sworn into office on January 14. How confident are you that a new commission would have any recourse at that point?

 A: “Well all I can do is hope that the new commission would have the ability to address the Dynamis issue in an appropriate manner. That they would be able to identify the legal reasons to find them in default. And again, something of this magnitude isn’t something that happens overnight. Again, you have to be careful; you have to do everything that is legal.

But you know, there’s a contract. You can’t take cancelling a contract likely. You have to have very good reasons to cancel a contract. I think it’s there – it would be better if the current commission found them in default. The longer it goes the more difficult it becomes for a new commission. I remain hopeful that if nothing has changed by January that within a reasonable period of time that the commission will be about to dispose of the Dynamis issue.

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio