“We did very well in the Senate’s capital budget proposal,” Sefzik said. “I am especially excited about the $10 million appropriation for Intalco. Restart is looking more and more like reality.”
They include funding for the missing link of the Jim Kaemingk, Sr. Trail in Lynden, and a pump station and housing for the developmentally disabled in Blaine. All told, the Senate capital budget proposal provides $11.8 million for the 42nd Legislative District.
The Whatcom County aluminum smelter was mothballed by Alcoa in 2020 due to falling metal prices and weakening demand. Aluminum prices have since rebounded, and a private equity firm, Blue Wolf Capital Partners, is negotiating to purchase and reopen the plant, pending an agreement on electricity supply. The state’s $10 million would pay for efficiency upgrades and pollution reduction efforts, making Intalco one of just two aluminum plants nationally that produce ‘green aluminum.’
Restart also would allow restoration of 700 high-wage jobs lost when the factory closed.
“Intalco restart will have a ripple effect throughout our local and state economy, as general prosperity leads to further job creation,”
Sefzik said. “Intalco already is one of the cleanest aluminum plants around, because it does not rely on coal-fired electricity. The current plan builds on that, with upgrades that would reduce Intalco’s greenhouse-gas footprint by 90 percent. Intalco deserves a future, and the Legislature is helping make the dream come true.”
This year’s capital budget supplements the two-year funding plan adopted by lawmakers last year. It pays for public works construction statewide and primarily is financed with long-term state bonds. Another proposal is due from the House.
Other appropriations contained in the Senate capital budget proposal include:
- $300,000 for the Jim Kaemingk, Sr. Trail in Lynden. Money would be used to complete a half-mile trail link between Depot Road and North 8th Street, including a bridge over Fishtrap Creek. The trail segment would link two miles of trail already developed in the city.
- $500,000 for the East Blaine Water Pump Station. Part of an infrastructure-development program for fast-growing East Blaine, the pump station would provide water and fire protection for 1,450 new housing units. The area’s higher elevation requires a water booster pump station. Total cost of the project is $1.5 million; with the appropriation the state would pick up one-third of the cost.
- $381,000 for a Blaine housing project coordinated by the Foundation for the Challenged. Money would be used to build a three-bedroom wheelchair accessible house for persons with disabilities. Another $762,301 has been committed by other sources.