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Intel economic report sparks debate

A top Intel official has agreed to discuss conducting a cost/benefit analysis of the company’s Hillsboro operations with one of its most vocal critics.

Jill Eiland, Intel’s corporate affairs director for the Northwest, agreed to meet with Forest Grove resident Dale Feik to discuss the concept during last week’s meeting of the Westside Economic Alliance (WEA). Eiland was there to present a report on Intel’s economic impact in Oregon. Feik, chairman of the Clean Air Committee of the Washington County Citizen Action Network, was in the audience.

During the question and answer period after the presentation, Feik asked if Intel would conduct a cost/benefit analysis to determine the impact of the projected level of greenhouse gas emissions from its new manufacturing plants. Eiland replied that she did not understand how such an analysis would be framed, but agreed to meet with Feik to discuss it. No timetable for the meeting has been disclosed.

According to Intel’s filings with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the company expects to release more than 800,000 total tons of carbon dioxide per year after its D1X Mod 2 facility is operational, but it is unclear how the environmental costs of Intel’s emissions could be accurately measured.

Intel’s economic impact on Hillsboro, the region and the state is easier to determine. It was detailed in a report prepared by ECONorthwest, a Portland-based economic consulting firm.

Among other things, it found Intel has invested around $25 billion in the Hillsboro area since 1974. The company currently has more than 17,000 employees in the region who earn an average of $168,000 a year — more than three times the statewide average. That total accounts for 16.7 percent of jobs and 25.2 percent of personal income in Washington County, the report noted.

According to the report, Intel’s annual payroll in the region is more than $2.8 billion, while its annual economic output is nearly $27 billion.

That’s nearly 9 percent of the economic output of the entire state, and it’s more than the total manufacturing output in 20 states and 82 countries, according to John Tapogna, president of ECONorthwest.

“Intel is single-handedly shaping the reputation of Portland and Oregon,” Tapogna said.

Intel is currently negotiating with the DEQ for a new emission permit for the manufacturing facility under construction, D1X Mod 2. The process has been complicated by Intel’s recent admission that it had failed to disclose its emissions of fluoride, claiming it was overlooked.

Despite the controversy this disclosure has provoked, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber recently signed an agreement with Intel concerning the project. In the agreement, Intel promises to invest at least $500 million and create at least 500 new jobs at the D1X facility. In exchange, the agreement guarantees how the company will pay state taxes for the next 30 years.



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