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Aug 8 2017

Don’t Waste Idaho

The new baseball caps at the Snake River Alliance say “Nuclear Waste is Not Your Friend.” But here it comes again — knocking at your door like a bad date from high school.

The Department of Energy is asking Idaho to accept high-level waste from the Byron nuclear plant in Illinois. This is to support research for South Korea. After the research, the waste will stay in Idaho.

We’ve heard this all before and we would be fools to fall for it. Idaho should not allow more nuclear waste. The government has not met its deadlines for removing what is already here.

Governor Otter and many legislators want the Byron waste and have plans to roll back Idaho’s 1995 Nuclear Waste Agreement to accept even more.

Many Snake River Alliance members know what happened when Idaho was a dumping ground for nuclear waste. For decades waste was directly injected into our aquifer and barrels of plutonium-laden waste were dumped into unlined pits.

We are fighting back with a media and public education campaign. Please help the Alliance launch by making a donation today to our new Don’t Waste Idaho campaign. We can’t do it without you!

It is important that we act today. The Byron shipment will open the door to more nuclear waste from many different places. There is already discussion of bringing thousands of barrels of nuclear waste to Idaho from Hanford, Washington.

Instead of accepting more waste, Idaho needs to enforce the 1995 Agreement that set up deadlines for cleanup at the Idaho National Laboratory. Those deadlines aren’t being met, and 900,000 gallons of highly radioactive liquid still sits in aging underground tanks at the Idaho National Laboratory.

Together we can stop the Byron shipment and keep our state safe. Don’t let Idaho open the door to more nuclear waste.

Thank you for helping the Don’t Waste Idaho campaign! When you send a one-time gift of $150 (or ongoing pledge of $10 a month) we will send you a “Nuclear Waste is Not Your Friend” hat in the color of your choosing. Just say “No hat, please” if that’s not your style.

August 2017 marks the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is a good time to take stock of where we are in the nuclear age.

The surprisingly good news is that on July 7, 2017, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was overwhelmingly adopted at the UN. None of the nuclear-armed states – U.S., Russia, China, U.K., France, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea – are expected to sign the treaty. Nevertheless, it establishes a new global norm that will be a touchstone for those of us working for a nuclear-free world.

The worst news shows how far we have to go. Three days before the Nuclear Ban Treaty vote, North Korea tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock is set at 2 ½ minutes before midnight. To mark this year’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries, the Bulletin prepared a collection of reading to help with the work ahead.

Tour the Idaho National Lab – Your radioactive backyard


On Thursday, August 31, 2017, Snake River Alliance members and supporters can visit the Idaho National Laboratory. Our tours are great opportunities to get a real sense of what has happened and is happening at the Idaho National Lab. Here’s what we’ll see first-hand.


  • Radioactive Waste Management Complex, where plutonium from weapons production was buried above the Snake River Aquifer, and the Superfund project to dig up targeted waste is nearly complete.
  • Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center, where you’ll see 1) remote-handled plutonium waste being stabilized in a very large hot cell, 2) the government’s largest spent nuclear fuel storage pool, and 3) the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit, where a project to treat liquid high-level waste is over budget and behind schedule.
  • Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project, where plutonium-contaminated waste is sorted and compacted to ship off-site sometime in the future.


The tour will run from 9 am to about 4 pm. It will be a long, challenging day, filled with juxtapositions. You will be close to but protected from very dangerous material. The Arco Desert, at the base of the Lemhi and Lost River ranges, is one of the most beautiful parts of our state. Humans have lived there for more than 13,000 years. Beneath INL, sixty years of nuclear contamination threatens the sole source of drinking water for 300,000 Idahoans downstream. Come see it for yourself.


If you have questions or already know you would like to go on the tour, please contact our nuclear program director, Beatrice Brailsford, at



Help stop bad nuclear policies

Members of the Snake River Alliance went to Washington DC this spring to help stop unsafe plans to “consolidate” nuclear waste from commercial power plants and speak out against taxpayer money for small modular reactors. Along with allies across the country, we hope to stop a bill putting our country’s nuclear waste storage policy on the wrong track yet again. You can help!

Please help us oppose H.B 3053 which would restart the failed licensing process for a permanent deep geologic waste repository at Yucca Mountain, NV. The proposal ignores both unsuitable geology and hydrology and the strong opposition of the people of Nevada.

Nevada refused to grant water rights for the repository. The bill introduced by John Shimkus of Illinois, would override state water rights. The bill also calls for interim consolidation of spent fuel without any safety, environmental, or public acceptance criteria. The Alliance signed on to a letter opposing the bill.

Please contact Idaho’s representatives and tell them you oppose HR 3053. The bill wouldn’t solve the nuclear waste problem and perpetuates a myth that the failed Yucca Mountain project could ever be opened.

Contact Idaho’s senators to tell them you oppose a second bill – HR 1551 – which has reached the Senate from the House and would extend a financial lifeline for the failing nuclear power industry. The bailout includes underwriting small modular reactors like the twelve NuScale wants to build in Idaho.

Clear back in 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Energy Policy Act set up production tax credits to subsidize new nuclear power plants to the tune of $5 billion. The problem is that no nuclear power plants have been built and none will come online by the time the program ends in 2020. The House has already passed a bill that would extend the subsidies.

HR 1551 flew through the House and has now been introduced in the Senate. Contact Idaho’s Senators and tell them you oppose HR 1551, which drains taxpayer money in a futile attempt to save the nuclear power industry.

You can contact Idaho Congressional Representatives at:

Rep. Mike Simpson- 202-225-5531

Rep. Raul Labrador- 202-225-6611

Sen. James Risch- 202-224-2752 or 208-342-7985

Sen. Mike Crapo- 202-224-6142 or 208-334-1776


While “net neutrality” has been in the public mind for years, the fight for “grid neutrality” has just begun. Across America, and potentially in Idaho, home and business owners who invest in clean energy face the prospect of discriminatory fees to access the power grid. The principals of grid neutrality protect fair prices for all electric customers and prevent people with solar or wind from being penalized.

A recent New York Times piece shows that equal public access to the grid is under threat from fossil-fuel industry lobbyists working to eliminate solar net metering programs across the country. This would force consumers to keep buying something we don’t want any more – electricity generated by polluting-spewing coal and natural gas plants.

Idaho’s net energy metering program is vulnerable to this misguided effort.

Over 1,200 Idaho Power customers have rooftop solar or small wind generators. These net meter customers gladly pay $5 per month for access to the electric grid. Just like other Idaho Power customers, this minimum applies even if no power is used in a given month.

Idaho Power has raised concerns that this might not be enough to fully recover the costs of operating the grid in the future and wants to cap the net metering program now. The company wants customers who install solar panels today to agree in advance to pay undisclosed higher rates and fees in the future.

It’s clearly not fair to charge people with rooftop solar more than other customers for access to the electric grid. If the utility truly isn’t charging enough to cover the costs of the grid then rates should be adjusted for all customers – not just solar power users.

As important as net neutrality is to the future of the internet, grid neutrality is to our energy system beyond fossil fuels. Without grid neutrality green energy users will soon balk at unfair extra fees and charges. If they to go off of the grid, not only will the utilities will lose customers but society will lose a chance to build a truly integrated smart grid.

Despite these uncertainties, there has never been a better time to invest in solar power. The cost of panels is at an all-time low. The 30% federal tax credit and state deductions make it even more affordable. We need policies to support these investments and local solar jobs. We can’t let fear tactics from the fossil fuel industry hold us back.

The Snake River Alliance is talking with Idaho Power and the Idaho Public Utilities Commission about grid neutrality and the costs and benefits of solar and distributed energy in Idaho. But right now, Idaho’s net metering program isn’t broken. Today all customers pay the same base rates. Policies that discriminate or penalize customers for installing wind power or solar panels should be turned back.