Letter to the editor: We have an important opportunity


Lewis County has an opportunity to be a technological leader in an emerging industry that could act to revitalize our entire area. The potential investment in hydrogen-related facilities could be huge.

I just want to make a few points about this potential investment. There are some statements floating about that are simply unsupportable. It is fine to have an opinion, but I would hope that we are driven by facts and sincere fact-based estimates as we make decisions.

The U.S. is making major investments in the potential use of hydrogen as a fuel. That is a fact, and some $8 billion will be spent around the country. The President has announced that the Pacific Northwest Hub will receive approximately $1 billion. That investment is going to happen. We can reject it and watch the money be invested in another county or we can pursue that investment for Lewis County.

The talk of this project benefiting China is not credible. There are a number of reputable Washington firms that have already expressed strong interest in using the hydrogen. But more importantly, China does not need our hydrogen as they are investing over $4 billion in hydrogen production. Just a few months ago, they started production at a huge new hydrogen producing facility powered by renewables. Lastly, shipping hydrogen from the U.S. to China is quite expensive and just not economically viable. The hydrogen will stay here.

Along with new technology comes both direct good paying jobs and many indirect jobs. It is not easy to find family-wage jobs, and this provides that opportunity. Lewis County’s unemployment rate is virtually always near the top of the list for all Washington counties. That will not change by wishing and hoping. It will only change by attracting economic activity to our community. We need every family wage job we can add.

Yes, public money will be an important part of the equation. Public money will be used as it has been during our nation’s history for highways, airports, railroads, rural electrification, high-speed broadband, dams to control flooding and provide electricity, the list is quite long of past public investments that we greatly value. It is not hard to find changes and investments that were opposed at the time but have proved to be of great value for America.

The decision has been made, and the money will be invested somewhere in the PNW. Does Lewis County want to tell the world and the decision makers for this project that we are not open to trying new ideas, we really do not want to change, and that our chronically high unemployment is OK?

We can watch other communities lead the way or we can work together to be one of the leaders. To me, the choice is clear — we must strengthen our local economy, and we need to support those who are working hard to do so.


Larry McGee