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“It’s clear that the Obama Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency listened to the concerns of states like Idaho that the Clean Power Plan as drafted posed difficult deadlines for states like Idaho writing greenhouse gas reduction plans,” said Alliance Clean Energy Program Director Ken Miller. “Idaho and all other states now have an extra year to prepare compliance plans and two extra years to begin implementing them. But we in Idaho still have some heavy lifting ahead to do our share in tackling emissions from coal-fired power plants.”

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Train Shipment Nuclear Waste in Idaho

Starting in 1957, every scrap of spent fuel from the nuclear Navy has come to Idaho. The nuclear Navy plans to continue to send its spent fuel to the Idaho National Laboratory for the foreseeable future. The nuclear Navy is now proposing to build a new facility at INL to receive, handle, chop up if desired, package, and store its spent fuel until at least 2060. The Department of Energy will be hold public meetings on the proposal in Idaho Falls (Tuesday, August 4), Pocatello (Wednesday, August 5), and Twin Falls (Thursday, August 6). Here’s some background so you can comment in person or in writing on the DOE’s environmental analysis for the new facility.

The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program’s first reactor began operating in March 1953 in the middle of the Arco Desert. It simulated crossing the Atlantic, leaking radiation along the way, and the nuclear Navy was born. Months later, on January 21, 1954, the nuclear Navy launched the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine. Read More

Jim Bridger coal fired power plant, Sweetwater County, Rock Springs Wyoming and pond. It  comprises four units, totaling 2110 megawatts (MW) of capacity. Completed in 1974, these generators use coal from the Bridger Coal and Black Butte mines.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is about to roll out one of the most sweeping and complex environmental programs ever – the Clean Power Plan, designed to sharply reduce climate-changing greenhouse gases spewed from the nation’s coal-fired power plants.

The plan will affect all states in one way or another, though some, like Idaho, less than many others because our coal-fired generation comes from out of state. But one thing is clear: Even before the Clean Power Plan emerges from the mountain of threatened court challenges, it will change the way we in Idaho and across the nation receive our electricity.
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Desert Half-Life

“Desert Half-Life” a fabric piece by Thea Belecz is part of the art exhibition “Holding What Can’t Be Held.”

We all learn and experience in different ways. Some of us want to read a scientific journal article, some to hear a first-person account. Some of us can fully visualize things in our mind’s eye, and others are only satisfied when we see, smell, and touch the thing itself. The Snake River Alliance has been one of the strongest advocates for cleanup at the Idaho National Laboratory and we want to help as many people as possible learn about the pollution at the Site and the beauty that surrounds it. In October 2014, we invited visual artists to join us on a tour to witness the cleanup efforts of some of the more contaminated places at INL. The artists came from across southern Idaho. Some were fairly familiar with the US nuclear weapons complex – the mother of one worked at the Rocky Flats plutonium factory, the father of another worked at INL. For others, the tour was their introduction to an almost alien place very near home. None of the artists left untouched.

Holding What Can’t Be Held collects their work probing the beauty and the peril of what they saw – and helps the rest of us see it, too. It had a very successful showing at Ming Studios in Boise and we are planning on showing it in other parts of the state as well. The exhibition has already received a strong, positive response, which we will make certain increases the attention paid to the importance of protecting Idaho from nuclear pollution – past, present, and proposed. Here’s one review. Many, many people are helping make this endeavor a success. You’ll see their names in our fall newsletter.

Just as Idaho’s solar power battles are at a peak, leaders in the Idaho Legislature have quietly created a “Solar Energy Task Force” that is charged “To study the effects of solar energy” in Idaho.

The Legislature routinely creates interim committees and task forces to study myriad issues of interest to Idahoans. Convening these meetings between sessions can give lawmakers more time to conduct more in-depth research into these issues. Legislators broke tradition in not re-authorizing the Interim Energy, Environment and Technology Committee to delve into Idaho energy issues this summer, despite the big energy issues confronting the state, including pending EPA rules to clamp down on coal-plant greenhouse gas emissions.

But what just popped up on the Idaho Legislature’s website is a notice announcing the creation of the Solar Energy Task Force. It is chaired by Sen. Curt McKenzie and Rep. Jeff Thompson and its membership consists of House and Senate Republicans sitting on the Legislature’s influential budget and tax committees. As of Tuesday evening, there were no Democrats listed on the task force’s membership.

The Snake River Alliance was told by legislative staff that this Solar Energy Task Force was created by the Senate pro tem and House speaker’s offices and that it most likely had something to do with the very public and very contentious case before the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in which groups like the Alliance have challenged efforts by Idaho’s three electric utilities to crack down on solar projects (see below).

While these kinds of task forces and committees are most often created through resolutions during the legislative session, it’s not unheard of for legislative leaders to create them on their own. In this case, that decision was made in the past several weeks – after the extraordinary post-adjournment legislative session that took place in May.

We won’t know for a while what will be addressed by this Solar Task Force, but we’re told it probably won’t be limited to the solar case awaiting a PUC order.

We’ll keep you posted on when this Solar Energy Task Force plans to meet and if its membership is amended to include Democrats or other Republicans.