• Andrus and Carlson

"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." - Chris Carlson

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Kudos to Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. Watching him last week on Idaho Public Television’s program devoted entirely to the issue of nuclear waste and the Idaho National Laboratory’s research mission, it is clear he gets what is at stake in the debate over Idaho abrogating the Batt agreement which bans the importation of any additional commercial nuclear waste material — even if the pretext is “research.”

General Wasden gets that he is charged with upholding the law and the Batt agreement is part of that law. He gets it that there’s an added layer in that the agreement was overwhelmingly approved by the people of Idaho.

Candidly, his show of resolve is encouraging. He reads the agreement correctly: It puts the onus on the federal government to solve the issue of 900,000 gallons of dangerous high level liquid waste stored above the Snake River aquifer. Some form of calcification permitting removal has to have been achieved and removal underway BEFORE any discussions can take place on the importation of any other radioactive material, including material allegedly for “research.”

The attorney general also noted that even in the short time he has been involved, the Energy Department keeps shifting the date for resolution on this critical matter. It is a classic example of an agency continually moving the goal posts.

It is no exaggeration to say General Wasden is a modern incarnation of the legendary ancient Roman hero, Horatio, who stood at one end of a narrow bridge and single-handedly defeated an enemy invading force. Folks, it is no exaggeration to say today that General Wasden is realistically the only person standing in the way of Idaho becoming the nation’s de facto nuclear waste dump.

Wasden gets it that with no national repository for highly radioactive material on the horizon, any material brought into Idaho even for so-called “research,” will NEVER leave.

In general the TV program, hosted by Melissa Davlin and Aaron Kunz, was balanced with some notable exceptions: the hosts never challenged former Idaho Senator Larry Craig’s claim to have been responsible for the Batt agreement in the first place, an agreement he now wants to discard. Pure baloney, as was Craig’s poor analogy equating nuclear waste to library books.

Nor did they challenge the obfuscation Energy Assistant Secretary-designate John Kotek brought to the program by his conveniently ignoring the series of broken promises by his agency. They should have asked him why any Idahoan, given that track record, should ever believe the agency or trust it?

Finally, what the program brought out was the strategy now being pursued by all the state’s top Republicans, except Wasden, in their craven desire to get the 30 pieces of metaphorical silver. So there is a problem with the Batt agreement?

Well, the solution is simple, my friend. Behind closed doors we’ll just renegotiate and “update” the Batt agreement. After all, it’s over 20 years old. Follow this logic being espoused by Senators Crapo and Risch and we’d be redoing the Constitution every 20 years. So, why should Idaho even agree to these “negotiations?”

The Energy department is already out of compliance because of repeated failures to meet key deadlines. Rather than updating the Batt agreement, Idaho should vigorously enforce it because there is a fundamental question DoE is refusing to answer.

If Idaho were to agree to allow this supposed minor amount of commercial spent fuel into the state for “research,” where will the material (not to mention the some 20 metric tons of spent fuel rods lined up behind) eventually go? The answer is, given the absence of Yucca Mountain (Nevada), nowhere. It will stay here indefinitely.

So will the toxic liquid waste even after it is solidified, BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER PLACE TO SEND IT. DOE, however, does not want to admit this which is why they redacted the answers to specific questions posed by former Governor Cecil D. Andrus, who has sued the department for failure not only to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act but also the Freedom of Information Act.

If there is one minor complaint regarding General Wasden, given his well-known commitment to transparency in governmental decisions and compliance with Idaho’s open meeting law, it is he has not joined Andrus’ suit to force DOE into FOIA compliance.

In the meantime all of Idaho’s top Republicans will stand arm in arm with the Idaho Falls Chamber in trying to peddle this pig in a poke about just a small amount of waste for research purposes being allowed into Idaho.

What they really will do is to open Idaho to an entirely new generation of wastes to join the significant waste already here, while hoping the public won’t focus on failures to meet long-ago agreed to clean-up deadlines.

These boosters, these Judas’ who risk a future they’ll not have to live with, are right now being thwarted by one man of integrity and courage, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. Pray that he remains strong and resolute.

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Shame on you, Senator Crapo. Shame, shame on you.

Recently your campaign published a list of Idaho legislators who had endorsed your re-election. Among those was that of State Senator Shawn Keough, recently elevated to the co-chairmanship of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee.

She has served Bonner County honorably and well for 20 years and is a long-time loyal supporter of Senator Crapo’s. Her reward for all these years of support?

Senator Crapo, in his continuing groveling before the Tea-Party faction of the Republican party and its Freedom Forum caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, named as his Bonner County campaign chair, Danielle Ahrens, a Republican Tea Party zealot who has twice challenged Senator Keough in Republican primaries.

It would be one thing if Ms. Ahrens had conducted a campaign with debate centered on thoughtful explanation of differences. That’s not the case, however. Even minimal due diligrnce on his campaign’s part would have told Crapo that Ms. Ahrens ran a viciously personal campaign full of false charges, innuendo and lies.

One would think Senator Crapo would not want to be associated with this type of campaigning; nor, with the type of zealot for whom the end justifies the means and so what if the truth gets mangled in the process? The old Mike Crapo wouldn’t want to be caught dead with someone like Danielle.

Neither would the “new” Mike Crapo, one would think. Such thinking is wrong. The new Crapo is so pandering to the right it is downright disgusting to view. He will win re-election easily, even if someone like First District Congressman and Freedom Forum zealot Raul Labrador is a challenger.

Crapo is running an unseemly race to the far right in the fear that if not, he would face a primary challenge. Thus, he runs, driven by fear. He must be rationalizing that if he goes to the extreme right there’ll be no room for a challenger.

Additionally, he must fear his Driving while Under the Influence (DUI) charge and conviction a few years ago will be brought up and LDS voters, especially those with “temple passes,” will abandon him.

Likewise, the new Crapo wants to repudiate the old, who, as a member of the Simpson/Bowles Budget Reform Commission voted for a solution that reflected judicious compromise. It called for a combination of spending cuts and “revenue enhancements.”

The latter phrase is a euphemism for “tax increase.” Thus, the Senator broke his pledge to Grover Norquist that he would never support any tax increase. That he was correct is irrelevant as he runs from his previous stance.

Senator Keough, for her part, has to be angry. She knows, unlike Crapo, that political loyalty runs both ways—at least that is the expectation. Presumably she has expressed her displeasure but one suspects true to the form of the new Crapo, his campaign does not dare rescind the appointment.

Admit that they’d made a mistake and not done their due diligence? Are you kidding me? Rather than do that and write a note of personal apology, the campaign will muddle through this stupid decision. It is a sad confirmation that Crapo so desperately wants to be re-elected he is compromising his reputation for integrity and rectitude.

When asked to comment, his campaign chair, Sara Nelson, gave the old line about welcoming the support of all interest groups including people divided on issues but agreeing in their support of the Senator’s re-election. Follow this logic and they would have welcomed the late neo-Nazi, Rev. Richard Butler’s support. Nelson claimed they’d done their due diligence and were aware of Ahrens past, but another staffer conceded theysimply took the recommendation of a member of the Bonner County Republican central committee.

What is truly sad is that Senator Crapo and his cynical, clueless campaign are contributing further to an environment in Republican ranks that is hell-bent on driving the moderates, the so-called Rhino’s, out of the party—especially those in leadership, whether it is a Speaker like John Boehner, a majority leader like Kevin McCarthy, or the co-chair of a Legislature’s JFAC committee, like Shawn Keough.

This is a downhill path that will inevitably lead to the dissolution of the Republican party as we know it today. For Senator Crapo not to be aware of where this groveling and pandering is leading is to demonstrate an incredible degree of self-induced ignorance.

For him, by his actions, to repudiate the value of political loyalty going both ways is simply unconscionable. There’s a Biblical verse saying what good is it for a man to inherit the world but lose his soul in the process? One wishes the Senator would ask himself that question but its obvious he won’t.

It might mess up his application for membership in the Senate’s Freedom Caucus.

Column

A nice note from Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan, in a September 16 letter to author Chris Carlson:

I appreciate your perspective on this important portion of Alaska’s history. As someone who was involved in the process and politics that resulted in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, your book provides an important record of the events that led to its creation.”

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