Aluminum smelting defining Iceland elections

You no doubt know that Iceland’s elections are coming up on May 12. But here’s something you may not know: the country’s aluminum-smelting boom has become a key issue in the race. With three smelters up and running and three more planned, fans and foes alike are fired up. A new party, the Iceland Movement, has a platform with exactly one issue — a five-year moratorium on big industrial projects while the effects of the current boom are studied — and the Left Green Party also opposes the smelters. The author of an anti-smelter book says efforts to please aluminum giants like Alcoa have created a “heroin economy” and worries that leaders are “diverting the whole ecosystem of the east.” But supporters say the plants create jobs and, since they run on geothermal and hydro energy, can provide a fix for the world’s current mess. Says Prime Minister Geir Haarde, “These smelters are not polluting in a global sense, if you were producing here what you would be producing by gas or coal somewhere else.”