Government agencies

I don’t have a story that is about historic preservation, but I have one about my one and only actual encounter with a government agency developing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that happened last summer. The Snake River Alliance (SRA), Idaho’s grassroots watchdog group concerned with all things nuclear and/or related to alternative energy sources, was able to get the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to hold a hearing in Boise, as well as Idaho Falls, about the proposed permitting for a French company called Areva to build a uranium enrichment facility in Eastern Idaho. They want to put it out in the desert by the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) (which was given that name in 2005, though it used to be the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) in 1977 and then became the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) in 1997). Anyhow, all these people got up and testified for or against granting the permit. My take was that those who were for the permit were business and civic leaders who were very concerned about the economic impact of such a huge project and what it could mean for jobs in Idaho. Those who spoke against the permit were citizens from many different walks of life, many with strong science backgrounds who gave examples of the environmental impact…impacts on the Snake River aquifer, the safety of animal and plant species in the area, the fact that there were wildfires nearby last summer and the question of the ground being seismically unstable. In the end when the report came back from the NRC this spring, (according to Liz Woodruff, the executive director of the SRA, who waded through it) they recommended granting the permit because there were NO environmental impacts that fell outside certain guidelines to be of enough concern to deny the permit. I admire anyone whose work involves dealing with government agencies. King’s book didn’t have any examples of positive outcomes and I wish he’d given some.

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