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Posts tagged as “Cecil Andrus”

Alaska, Andrus and Carter

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Former President Jimmy Carter, the best ex-president this country has ever had, is suffering from liver cancer and could be crossing the Jordan River soon. He is now 90 years old and just finished his 25th book. The Carter Center at Emory University in Atlanta has become a model for the good works a former president can do both in this country and around the world.

Without question the top achievement legislatively from the four years President Carter held the wheel was passage of the Alaskan lands legislation which overnight doubled the size of the National Park system and the Fish and Wildlife system of bird refuges. Almost 100 million acres, including entire ecosystems received protection.

I have a new book out, Eye on the Caribou, published by Ridenbaugh Press that tells the inside story of the critical role played by former four term Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus in securing the historic legislation while serving as President Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of the Interior.

I’ve long thought that Governor Andrus has never been given the full credit he deserved for the critical role he played in leading the way to passage of the greatest single piece of conservation legislation in American history, so I set out to make sure the history books properly reflect this excellent piece of his legacy.

This new book joins a well reviewed biography (Cecil Andrus: Idaho’s Greatest Governor) on the governor published in 2011, and a book of 13 essays (Medimont Reflections) in 2013 that covered other issues and political figures Governor Andrus and I worked on during my 40 years of public involvement.

Andrus has always been quick to say that “success has a thousand fathers and mothers” and has especially singled out the Alaska Coaliton and the critical role played by Chuck Clusen, Brock Evans and Doug Scott for their contribution to successful passage of the legislation.

Future historians will find some heretofore little known jewels of information in this latest book. For example, during the summer of 1978 when Andrus and President Carter spent four days fly fishing and floating the Middle Fork of Idaho’s Salmon River, they settled on the fall back strategy of President Carter using his authority under the Antiquities Act to make the largest national monuments in history. They guessed correctly this would bring the Alaska delegation back to the bargaining table to undue the more restrictive form of protection monument status requires.

Other examples of anecdotes in the book include a heretofore unreported 1979 secret meeting between Alaska Governor Jay Hammond and Secretary Andrus in which the two by themselves spent a day fishing at some of Hammond’s favorite fishing sites in and around Lake Clark and Lake Iliamna. The two would set aside their fishing rods from time to time, get out their maps and pretty much settled on the boundaries of the soon-to-be new additions to the Nationl Park Service and to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s system of bird refuges.

The book also details the massive cross-over vote in 1980 orchestrated by the late Senator Ted Stevens to defeat in the Democratic primary his senatorial colleague, Mike Gravel. Stevens held Gravel directly responsible for the circumstances leading to his wife Ann’s death in a plane crash on December 4th, 1978.

The book also details the adverse impact the legislation had for the owner of a properly proven up mining claim owned by a partnership that included a Spokane exploration geologist, Wallace McGregor.

Even universally acclaimed legislation can still have adverse impacts on some people, and while Mr. McGregor’s dispute with the Park Service over his inholding is complex the fact remains that 40 years have gone by without any compensation to them for a de facto taking.”

The book retails for $16.95 and is now available directly from the publisher, Ridenbaugh.com, or Amazon.com, or directly from the author, or at your nearby Hastings outlet in Idaho and at Aunties in Spokane, as well as The PaperHouse in St. Maries.

What a web we weave

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Most can complete the saying: “when first we start to deceive.” Most get the point also - that one lie begets another lie, and the more a person or institution lies, the more likely it is to become entrappped in a spider web of its own making.

Apparently the folks running the Department of Energy (DoE) today and its Idaho National Lab (INL) subsidiary either don’t get it or don’t understand it or just don’t care. This casual disregard for truth is seriously eroding public trust both in the department itself and in INL’s management.

Admiral Grossenbacher, the INL site manager, is on the one hand a pleasant, intelligent, and charming fellow. The extent to which he presents the deliberately misleading company line, on the other hand, has one questioning everything he says.

The latest example of the long, sorry history of DoE duplicity, double-talk, distortion and misrepresentation is the proposed importation of “only two hundred pounds of commercial spent fuel rods” for research purposes. To bring two shipments in, however, requires a waiver of the 1995 Agreement between the state of Idaho, the Navy and the DoE negotiated by Governor Phil Batt, which prohibits such importation.

Both former Governor Batt and Governor Cecil D. Andrus immediately registered strrng objections. Andrus also referenced information he had that the first two shipments were just the camel’s nose and that DoE had plans to bring an additional 20 metric tons of commercial spent fuel rods to Idaho.

INL boosters pooh-poohed Andrus’ information saying it was indicative that he simply did not know what he was talking about. Guess what, folks? Andrus was correct. The Snake River Alliance produced a tape of Admiral Grossenbacher in a September of 2013 presentation to Governor Otter’s LINE Commission referencing DoE plans to follow up the initial two shipments with 20 metric tons of commercial spent fuel rods from the North Ana (Virginia) nuclear plant to be stored, monitored and studied for a number of years.

Both former governors pointed out to the media that absent DoE’s now cancelled final repository being constructed at Yucca Mountain, Nevada there is no other place to ship waste at INL to despite the Batt Agreement’s deadline of 2036 for all waste to be gone. Once here it will stay here.

DoE has since put out a Supplemental Analysis (SA) of the supposed environmental impacts of moving and storing these commercil spent fuel rods that can only be described as a joke. Using 20 year old data rehased from an earlier EIS simply will not fly and Governors Batt and Andrus are betting that if and when they go to Federal court on this issue the judge will again side with them.

What was most deceitful in the SA, however, was the misrepresentation that both Governor Otter and Attorney General Wasden have signed off on and in effect approved of the waiver request. That is simply not true.

In a letter to DoE on February 27th, AG Wasden made it clear he was not signing off on anything until the department fulfills another condition of the Batt agreement, that of cleaning up and disposing of 900,000 gallons of liquid waste stored at the site. Past efforts to solve this challenge have failed and the department is years away from finding a solution and meeting that pre-condition.

Just prior to Andrus/Batt attorney Laird Lucas¸ of the Advocates for the West, submitting on behalf of the former governors their comments dissing the incompleteness of the Supplemental Analysis, the Office of the Secretary of DoE finally provided a classic non-response to a separate Freedom of Information request filed by Andrus in January of 2015. The document contained 18 specific questions regarding the proposed handling and storage of the spent fuel rods, whether there was a supplemental budget to cover costs, and other basic, easy-to-answer if you want to questions.

Claiming privilege and national security, the letter was another complete non-response, containing page after page of redacted material. Here’s hoping the two governors, or at least Governor Andrus, file a federal lawsuit against INL and DoE on this matter also.

At the very first joint press conference held by the former governors to announce their opposition, Governor Batt referenced an important principle that should be honored.

He pointed out that the people of Idaho in essence ratified his agreement. Batt said any change whatsoever in the agreement would have to be taken back to the voter to be ratified.

Here’s a wager that DoE/INL will never do that for the simple reason even they know the public seldom rewards liars.