"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Carlson: 30 pieces?

Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

Some may recall an ad for a brokerage firm a few years back. Folks would be talking and suddenly everything would go silent as everyone strained to hear what the man from E.F. Hutton was saying. The message was simple: when E.F. Hutton speaks, everyone listens.

Former four term Governor Cecil D. Andrus spoke this past weekend to the Idaho Conservation League’s annual retreat at Redfish Lake. He had two very pointed messages not just for the ICL, but for all the Idahoans as well as the states’ elected leadership.

Everyone should stop everything they are doing and listen. Nothing less than the future of Idaho as a viable, economically growing state is at stake.

Cece is 80 now, still sharp as a tack, but hard of hearing, has vision impairment in one eye (Not his shooting eye he’s quick to tell one), and manages other ailments that come with age. Gifted with energy as he is, inevitably the old clock starts to slow down, but his devotion to a state he loves and led during 14 years as governor compels him to speak out.

His first message was typically blunt. He told his friends at the ICL and Congressman Mike Simpson, who also spoke later, that it was time to quit fiddling around with trying to please everyone regarding the need to provide additional protection for the high peak areas of the Boulders and White Clouds to the east of Redfish Lake.

Andrus called on the ICL and Simpson to write President Barack Obama that just as Jimmy Carter had to do in Alaska, President Obama had to declare the Boulder/White Clouds a National Monument. Both Simpson and the ICL, who have worked so hard for so many years to obtain compromise wilderness legislation, had to support this step as the only way to overcome Senator Jim Risch’s “hold” on Simpson’s wilderness bill and galvanize the Congress into acting.

While complimentary of Simpson’s extraordinary efforts to achieve reasonable compromise, Andrus was critical of Senator Risch for bowing to the single issue interests of those who simply desire to take their snowmobile or ATV anywhere they want on public lands, damn the consequences.

Andrus’ second message was a clarion call on the ICL to make a new #1 priority out of protecting the great Snake Plain Aquifer from probable radioactive particle pollution, a happenstance which he called not only a threat to the future of Idaho agriculture but also to the state itself.

Holding a document presented in April by retired Admiral John Grossenbacher, director of the Idaho National Laboratory, to Governor Otter’s Leadership in Nuclear Energy (LINE) commission, Andrus called on the ICL to take the lead in opposition to the proposed changes in Idaho’s carefully negotiated 1995 agreement with the Department of Energy.

The INL power point asked that the state of Idaho let the DOE off the hook on its commitment to have calcined all liquid waste on-site by the end of this year. DoE is asking that a new agreement putting the date off to 2040 be accepted since they are barely started.

Additionally DOE wants to be able to receive 3000 metric tons of commercial spent fuel rods for “interim” storage, but no longer wants to be held to the 2035 date they told Governor Otter they would honor last year if he would accept a small amount of commercial spent fuel rods each year for the next 23 years for “research purposes.” Now they want a date of 2050 as the deadline for removal of these interim stored wastes.

All of this is being driven by the colossal failure of Yucca Mountain, Nevada, despite billions of invested dollars, to be developed as the nation’s ultimate repository site. Andrus correctly knows that if Idaho buys this pig in a poke it will not be interim storage but indeed Idaho will be the de facto permanent storage site.

And the idea of Idaho taking ownership of the plutonium let alone the INL site is complete lunacy given the potential liability.

In exchange for what, he asks? The answer though is no amount of money or jobs is worth risking the future of the state’s agriculture and the need to protect the state’s greatest source of water. Why risk the future given DOE’s long record of broken promises, he further asks.

Listen up, Idaho. Your greatest governor is telling you that you are about to be betrayed by your current political leadership and you won’t even get the Biblical 30 pieces of silver for the betrayal.

Chris Carlson is a writer and former press secretary for Governor Andrus. He lives in Medimont.

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