Senator Peavey at a 2017 Snake River Alliance gathering. Photo credit Liz Paul.

Senator Peavey at a 2017 Snake River Alliance gathering. Photo credit Liz Paul.

Tribute to Senator John Peavey 

by Kerry Cooke, former Executive Director and former Board of Directors

The Snake River Alliance lost a great ally this June when John Peavey died. John was a sheep rancher, a vocation he took very seriously, just as he did his job as preserver of Idaho’s wildlands and wildlife. Besides his work as a rancher, he served in the Idaho Legislature. 

Way before a lot of other Idahoans did, John recognized the threat to all he held dear by the activities at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) nuclear site. In the early 80s he became a crusader of that message, talking to his rural neighbors, the media, and other lawmakers about the historical and potential harm that DOE activities posed. 

Rising into party leadership in the legislature, John used every opportunity to challenge the automatic approval DOE usually got for its plans for nuclear waste disposal and weapons material creation.

In the early years of the Alliance, John’s support and guidance was invaluable. Across the state, John often showed up for our public meetings and events to add his particular boost to our efforts. He taught many of us the techniques to successful lobbying and testifying, who were the approachable legislators, and who to save our efforts on. John served on key committees to be able to bring attention to bad ideas and to support good ones. We knew we could count on John’s counsel and support 100%.

Our condolences to his wife Diane Josephy and to the family. Rest In Peace, John Peavey. You earned it.

A visionary leader on water

By Wendy Wilson, former Executive Director

Former democratic Senator John Peavey always wore his cowboy hat on the floor of the Idaho Senate. To John, being a leader in Idaho politics meant fighting for clean water, family farms and transparent government – and always in his best cowboy hat.

That was part of his vision to make an impact and leave the world better than he found it.

John Peavey

Throughout his 90 years, anyone who talked with John knew he was passionate about two things – sheep ranching and water. His passion for water led to his early activism in the 70’s to help defeat a proposed 1,000 MW coal-fired power plant. Idaho is definitely better off because of that.

John also spoke out early in his career against the threat of nuclear waste contamination to the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer. He provided leadership in the Idaho Senate to fight the federal Department of Energy’s plans to bring more waste to Idaho and became a leading spokesperson for the Stop the Shipments Initiative in 1996. Idaho is definitely better off not being the nation’s nuclear waste repository.

John was a teacher helping people understand and use the Prior Appropriation Doctrine to protect what he called “wet water” – for fish, wildlife and people. John’s leadership was an important catalyst for action.

John and his allies challenged Idaho Power at the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. This led to Idaho Supreme Court action and creation of the Snake River Basin Adjudication. This process sorts out the paper water rights from “wet water” and gives the state legal clout to manage water more effectively.

As a result, Idaho now has one of the most progressive water management systems inthe West. When someday this system prevents the Snake River from being pumped completely dry – it will be in no small part because of John’s vision.