Mission, Vision, & History
The Snake River Alliance serves as Idaho’s nuclear watchdog and Idaho’s advocate for renewable and nuclear-free energy. We raise community awareness about the dangers of nuclear waste, weapons and power while working to identify and promote sustainable alternatives. We do our work through advocacy, collaboration, education and grassroots organizing.
We envision responsible solutions to nuclear waste and a nuclear-free future. We seek to strengthen Idaho’s economy and communities through the implementation of renewable energy sources in Idaho and the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation.
Idaho’s Nuclear Watchdog Since 1979
The Snake River Alliance was founded in 1979, soon after the Three-Mile Island accident, by a handful of people who had just learned the Idaho National Laboratory routinely injected hazardous and radioactive waste into the Snake River Aquifer, the sole source of drinking water for a quarter of a million people. The first focus of our efforts was to build public pressure to stop this irresponsible practice, and the “injection well” at INL was in fact in capped in 1987.
From our founding, the Alliance has been actively and absolutely opposed to nuclear weapons, and we threatened litigation early on to stop construction of the first New Production Reactor, a weapons material production reactor, at INL. We educated Idahoans throughout the 1980s on weapons issues through our Hazardous Materials Transport Project, steady publication of our research findings, and educational events such as our Peaceful Priorities conference, which featured activists such as Helen Caldicott, and Swimming Upstream to Protect Communities Downstream celebrating our 25th anniversary.
In 1984 we began a 2-year project, Children in the Nuclear Shadow, to bring attention to children’s fears about nuclear war. Between 1987 and 1990, the Alliance focused on blocking construction of the Special Isotope Separator, which would have produced weapons-grade plutonium. We worked with a broad range of public interest groups and state regulators to achieve passage in 1992 of the Federal Facilities Compliance Act, which forced the Department of Energy to obey our country’s core hazardous waste law. In 1992, the majority of Idahoans, with our leadership, blocked construction of a second New Production Reactor and the revamping of the nuclear weapons complex. Our Stop the Shipments campaign in the early 1990s trained public attention on nuclear navy waste coming to Idaho, which ultimately led to reduced shipments.
Ever since INL was named a Superfund site in 1989, the Alliance has been the most active advocate of cleanup there. We analyze cleanup plans, helped prepare the first non-governmental study of the nuclear threats to the Snake River Aquifer as well as other reports, and publicize environmental problems through aggressive outreach and education, having presented our Idaho’s Water at Risk presentation to a broad range of audiences. We have long been recognized nationally as one of he sharpest critics of reprocessing, the must-take step between a nuclear reactor and a nuclear bomb, and were plaintiffs in an effort to force thorough cleanup of the high-level waste reprocessing produces. In 1999 we helped lead the Back from the Brink national campaign to take nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert. In 2001 we helped stop the construction of a plutonium incinerator at INL.
All our work is informed by cooperation with other groups working on similar issues, and in 1987 we helped found the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, which brings together people from across the country who live in the shadow of the nuclear weapons complex. We have traveled to Washington, DC, each year for the past two decades to discuss our concerns. We help sustain and invigorate Idaho’s progressive community through an array of events such as concerts with the likes of Jackson Browne, Carole King, and Steve Miller, rallies and demonstrations, community dinners, public workshops, and celebrations such as Give Peace and Dance and the Peace Fair.
Since 1979 the Alliance has worked to protect Idaho’s people, environment, and economy from nuclear weapons and waste at the Idaho National Laboratory. Today we are one of Idaho’s strongest advocates for clean and renewable energy, leading the charge for the development of a sustainable energy plan for Idaho and providing leadership and coordination amongst our allies.
Alliance Accomplishments Timeline
- 1979: Founded after two groups of citizens met serendipitously in Boise’s Julia Davis Park and expressed concerns about news stories regarding the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor meltdown and the INL injecting nuclear waste into the Snake River Aquifer.
- 1984-1986: Organized the “Children in the Nuclear Shadow” project, to bring attention to children’s fears about nuclear war.
- 1987: Rallied opposition to the INL’s injection of nuclear waste into the Snake River Aquifer, and the Idaho National Laboratory injection well was capped.
- 1987: Helped stop the Special Isotope Separator nuclear weapons facility at the INL.
- 1987: Helped found a national coalition of nuclear watchdog groups called the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.
- 1989: Began work to “clean up” nuclear waste threatening Idaho’s drinking water at INL after the INL was named a Superfund Site.
- 1990’s (early): Organized the “Stop the Shipments” campaign, which focused public attention on nuclear Navy waste coming to Idaho and led to reduced shipments.
- 1992: Led the public in blocking a second New Production Reactor and revamping of the nuclear weapons complex.
- 1995: Governor Batt signed a settlement agreement to prevent commercial radioactive waste from coming to Idaho.
- 1999: Helped lead the “Back from the Brink” campaign to take nuclear weapons off hair trigger alert.
- 1992: Achieved passage of the Federal Facilities Compliance Act, which forced the Department of Energy to obey the nation’s core hazardous waste law.
- 2001: Worked with other groups to stop the construction of a plutonium waste incinerator at the INL
- 2004: Expanded the organization’s mission to include clean energy advocacy for the state of Idaho.
- 2005: Helped stop the Sempra coal plant proposal in Jerome.
- 2005: Helped stop the Divine Strake bomb testing.
- 2005: Achieved passage of the Defense Authorization Funding bill that changes the Nuclear Waste Policy Act allowing the DOE to reclassify lethal, high level radioactive waste to “incidental to reprocessing” in South Carolina and Idaho.
- 2006: Rallied to stop Alternate Energy Holding, Inc. (AEHI) from building a nuclear reactor in Owyhee County.
- 2006: Assisted in drafting the 2007 Idaho Energy Plan through working groups under the legislative Interim Energy, Environment, and Technology Committee
- 2007: Helped defeat Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy nuclear reactor proposal in Payette.
- 2007: Participated in major buried waste cleanup at the INL and hired a technical assistant with a technical assistance grant from the EPA to professionally consult on the best practices to date for nuclear waste cleanup.
- 2008:Helped stop another AEHI nuclear reactor proposal in Elmore County by challenging the rezone of agriculture land on the Snake River from “agricultural” to “heavy industrial” for the purpose of building a nuclear power facility.
- In December 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued AEHI for fraudulent stock practices.
- 2008: Helped create the “Idaho Energy Collaborative” made up of environmental organizations and green businesses seeking to build common ground to move clean energy policies in Idaho.
- 2009-2011:Rallied to stop a $4.1 billion uranium enrichment facility proposal by Areva, a French government-owned multinational nuclear corporation.
- On December 13, 2011 Areva announced it was “suspending” plans to build the factory in Idaho due to financial constraints.
- 2011: Launched our “Choose Efficiency, Lose the Coal” campaign with a bike rally in Boise which was attended by nearly 100 people and released our reports, “Idaho’s Energy Future” and “Idaho’s Dangerous Dalliance with King Coal.”
- 2012: Brought world-renowned activist and scholar, Joanna Macy to Idaho for a lecture attended by hundreds and a weekend workshop attended by 75 people.
- 2012: Held a successful “Careholders” rally outside of Idaho Power during its 2012 Shareholders meeting. This effort garnered widespread media attention and galvanized public opposition to Idaho’s reliance on dirty coal-fired power imported from out-of-state. Our rally was complimented by a half-page advertisement in the Idaho Statesman. We released our second report on coal “Kicking Idaho’s Coal Habit” in August of 2012.
- 2012-2013: Successfully organized opposition to an effort by the Leadership in Nuclear Energy (LINE) Commission to recommend bringing more commercial radioactive waste into Idaho. The Commission’s final report did not include this recommendation. We continue to work to protect Idaho from more nuclear waste and promote an environmentally sound and equitable national nuclear waste policy.
- 2013: Organized concerned shareholders to raise the issue of coal and carbon emissions at the 2013 Idaho Power Shareholders meeting and ran another advertisement in the Idaho Statesman calling coal a “losing bet.”
- 2013: 25 people attended our tour of the INL cleanup effort in July 2013.