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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of May 7 - 13, 2003


Idaho’s senior
senator optimistic

Craig sees promise in Idaho’s diverse future

Express Staff Writer

Idaho’s senior senator said he sees promise in a diverse new Idaho economy that maintains its established grounding in the agriculture and recreation industries.

"I’m high on where we’re headed," said U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, during a recent interview at Sun Valley Lodge. "I think there’s great opportunity here."

Craig said many things have helped Idaho’s economy arrive in the mainstream, including the 1990s technological boom, which brought huge growth to Idaho-based tech giant Micron and the Idaho branch of Hewlett Packard.

"When I grew up here, it was agriculture, timber and mining. If those slumped, Idaho was out of business," Craig said. "Of course the decade of the ’90s brought tremendous diversity into Idaho."

Craig repeatedly stressed diversity as an important component to Idaho’s financial success, but he also said there is no way to avoid the ups and downs of the overall economy.

"We are now linked to the national and world economies. There’s no question about that, and we will ebb and flow with it as it obviously goes through its normal cycles."

In an effort to restart a U.S. nuclear program and to spur diverse job growth in Idaho, Craig has been lobbying his Washington, D.C., peers to pass a $1.1 billion advanced nuclear reactor expansion project at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory.

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed the legislation on April 10.

If passed, it would be the largest single construction project in the history of Idaho, Craig said.

"This plan is very bold and still has a long way to go, but there will not be a better alignment between the goals of a reactor demonstration like this and the energy needs of the nation than exists right now," Craig said. "The benefits to Idaho and the nation will be immense, and I will continue to pursue this opportunity."

According to Craig, the reactor design would generate electricity and hydrogen for use in moving the nation toward a hydrogen-based transportation economy as outlined by President Bush in his State of the Union address in January.

INEEL would be the lead Department of Energy laboratory for all stages of the project, Craig said.

"You liken it to the space program. It’s pushing the future out there a long ways, in terms of our energy program."

On Idaho’s overall economy, Craig continued his steadfast optimism.

"Yea there are downturns, and, yes, we’re in one, but I believe we’ll be starting out of it, if we’re not already starting out of it," he said.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.