Written by Dave Young, President
I don't usually write about political topics in Utah, but with all of the attention the senate race is getting, I thought i would add my two cents…
Controversial Energy Solutions is sitting quietly on the sidelines. In the upcoming election, if the senator they want wins, it will significantly increase their political strength for the next six years. They are on track to bring large amounts of nuclear waste into Utah and create the largest privately owned nuclear waste facility in the United States. With the state convention coming up, state delegates have a responsibility to fully understand the politics around energy solutions.
A January 20th, Mason-Dixon Poll discovered that 76 percent of Utahns oppose disposal of thousands of tons of depleted uranium that Energy Solutions wants to bring to their state. Opposition was evenly distributed among republicans, democrats, men and women.
Because of opposition by the people of Utah, Energy Solutions has taken another approach to get their way. With their staff of attorneys, lobbyists and public relations experts their strategy is two pronged. They are spending large amounts of money to change public opinion and more importantly, influence legislators.
The first step is to change public perception and convince Utahns that they want nuclear waste that the rest of the world does not. This is done by ongoing advertisements and mailings extolling their virtues. Even though they do not sell consumer products in Utah, they spend a lot of money to put their name on the most popular sports stadium in the state. They run enough advertising on radio stations to put the talk show hosts on their side.
Their second step is to influence the local and national politicians that make the laws. If you have the ear of the people who make the laws that regulate you… you win.
How do you influence a politician? It is simple. All you do is contribute to their campaign. It is surprising that it doesn't really cost much. Energy Solutions through its PAC and employees is one of the largest campaign contributors in the state. They aren't partial, and they give money to any politician, republican or democrat, local or national, that might further their cause.
So far, their strategy is working. On the national side, Rob Bishop, a former company lobbyist, is not a U.S. House Representative, representing Utah. On a local level, many legislators are changing their stance and now favor Energy Solutions. Never mind the controversy over their expanding beyond what they originally promised Governor Huntsman or the controversy surrounding the science behind the "blended waste" they want to bring to the state.
The poll mentioned earlier also said that 68 percent of Utahns want to ban importing radioactive waste from foreign countries. Energy Solutions employees and PAC donated about $47,000 to Bob Bennett. That donation went a long way as Bennett ignored the polls and is currently blocking legislation that would stop Energy Solutions from bringing nuclear waste from Italy. With his campaign chairman being a former Energy Solutions Vice President, draw your own conclusion as to where Bennett's loyalties lie. Attorney Mike Lee is another senate candidate with direct ties to Energy Solutions. When asked about his involvement with Energy Solutions, Lee brushes it off by saying, "I just helped them with one small case" he successfully argued against the will of the Northwest Compact, which is made up of Utah and seven other states, against Governor Herbert and according to the poll, against the people of Utah.
Using the free commerce provision of the U.S. constitution, he argued the state and won the right for Energy Solutions to bring low-level waste in from Italy to Utah. Utah argued that once waste from Italy is allowed, then neither the state nor the NRC will have any way of limiting waste from all over the world. The shipment from Italy is the largest amount of low-level radioactive waste the Nuclear Regulatory Agency has ever been asked to allow into the U.S. For obvious reasons, no other country accepts foreign radioactive waste for disposal. Also in line are pending applications to import waste from Brazil and Mexico for disposal in Utah. This was not just "one small case."
Two of the four leading senate candidates do not have ties to Energy Solutions. Those two without ties are Cherilyn Eagar and Tim Bridgewater. If as the poll says, 76 percent of Utahns oppose bringing thousands of tons of depleted uranium her for burial, it might make sense to elect a candidate that shares Utahns' views.
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