Elmore County commissioners on Monday submitted a request to the Planning and Zoning commissioners to examine possible changes to the current comprehensive land use plan’s identification of areas for industrial development. By so doing they acknowledged that the current application to build a nuclear reactor along the Snake River is in violation of the comprehensive plan and their request means the plan, which took several years to develop with countywide input, would have to be significantly altered to allow for the proposed facility.

Commissioners weighed the county’s restriction of heavy industrial development to the Simco Road area near Ada County. The Elmore Planning and Zoning Commission had already recommended AEHI’s application be rejected as a blatant violation of the County’s Comprehensive Plan.

“Some people just can’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” Snake River Alliance Executive Director Andrea Shipley said following today’s recommendation. “The people of Elmore County have spoken. They have said loud and clear they value their cherished rural lifestyle and they reject the false claims of economic miracles peddled by this company.”

In considering the rezoning request for the second week, Commissioners made it clear that water and waste were of concern. Commissioner Rose said that the aim of the comprehensive plan was to ensure there was “no chance of pollution or contamination.” He noted, too, that “water is fairly scarce.”

Commissioner Shaw was reluctant to vote to send a submission for possible changes to the comprehensive plan regarding siting of industrial development, noting that the plan was vetted with county residents. He said, “There’s no question about what the comprehensive plan says.”
But one Commissioner remained doubtful. Commission Cruser said, “This is too important a decision to make on one word in the comprehensive plan.”

In fact, in the section of the comprehensive plan addressing the community of Hammet also specifies that light industrial developments are desirable, but heavy industrial developments would be considered a threat to the quality of life in the area. “Amending this plan will take far more than changing one word in the document,” said Shipley. “Throughout the comprehensive plan clear safeguards were erected to prevent exactly this type of development in this location. We expect that the residents of Hammet will be very vocal in their opposition to any amendment that would allow heavy industry along this agricultural stretch of the Snake River.”
Shipley continued, “The people of Elmore County have said no tirelessly for 6 months. They are truly dedicated to the place they and those before them have called home for generations. They have the wisdom to understand the irrevocable damage a nuclear reactor would do to Elmore County, to the Snake River, and to Southwest Idaho. The people of Idaho owe them a debt of gratitude for continuing to speak out to protect the land, water and air.”

Besides the clear violation of the Comprehensive Plan, county residents and others warned that placing a water-sucking nuclear reactor a mile from the Snake River would threaten the lifeblood of southern Idaho. Arming themselves with facts on nuclear power, they also made it clear that the mountain of dangerous nuclear waste generated by such a plant would remain on the site – and just above the Snake River – for a century or more. When public hearings begin on nuclear power, they will soundly defeat AEHI’s claims that Idaho needs its nuclear reactor’s energy. In fact, Idaho has a bright and secure energy future that will flourish with development of renewable energy that will bring hundreds of jobs in Idaho and energize local economies.

“This is the second county in Idaho that AEHI has peddled its reactor to,” Shipley said, noting AEHI abruptly left Owyhee County in the face of overwhelming opposition. “Idaho does not need this plant. It’s a shame AEHI’s presence in Idaho is diverting so much attention from our state’s real energy future. We need to get back to real energy solutions, including renewables and energy efficiency.”

The Snake River Alliance works for responsible solutions to nuclear waste and a nuclear-free future. It seeks to strengthen Idaho’s economy and communities through the implementation of renewable energy sources in Idaho and the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation. This year marks its 30th Anniversary as Idaho’s nuclear watchdog and advocate for clean energy.