Leave it to the state of Idaho to do its best to derail a huge economic development project in a county that could use all the help it can get.

    We’re talking about the Idaho Board of Environmental Quality’s decision this month to delay the proposed Magnida plant’s air quality permit.

    Magnida hopes to build a $2 billion fertilizer plant in American Falls that would provide 170 permanent jobs and nearly 2,000 temporary construction jobs.

    The Magnida plant is exactly the type of project Idaho should want. More Magnidas could turn around our state’s beleaguered economy, meaning better wages and more disposable income for Idahoans as well as more tax dollars for education, infrastructure and a whole bunch of other stuff that would make our state a more attractive place.

    But the Board of Environmental Quality voted 5 to 1 to essentially reverse a previous decision to grant the proposed Magnida plant an air quality permit.

    The role ConAgra Foods is playing in obstructing Magnida cannot be denied. ConAgra also operates a plant in American Falls.

    But for some reason ConAgra does not support perhaps the biggest economic development project in Power County’s recent history and has successfully pushed the Board of Environmental Quality to now delay Magnida’s arrival.

    Madnida officials are still confident their plant will become a reality but anyone in the economic development business knows delays — especially stupid ones like this — can kill projects.

    The sad thing is that anything done to hurt Magnida’s chances of coming to Power County is really an attempt to continue the economic downturn the county is experiencing. Delaying Magnida will essentially hurt Power County’s residents who like all Idahoans are struggling to make ends meet.

    Even the local Alco store is closing up shop in American Falls, adding to the list of businesses that just couldn’t find enough customers to make it in Power.

    Considering the county’s declining economic state, it is difficult to understand ConAgra’s determination to kill this project.

    There is a grassroots effort to get American Falls and Power County officials to publicly support the Magnida plant in the face of ConAgra’s opposition.

    That’s good but it would be nice if heavy hitters on the state level — such as Department of Commerce Director Jeff Sayer and Gov. Otter — could stop the nonsense and allow Magnida to start helping our economy.

    If Power County loses this plant, we will truly wonder about Idaho’s so-called commitment to economic development success and job creation.

    Hopefully the end of this story will not be yet another lesson on how our leaders talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

    It’s a sad statement about our state when something like the proposed Magnida plant is even being debated.

    Perhaps we’re all bearing witness to the very reason why Idaho’s economy is so disappointing.

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