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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of October 8 - 14, 2003


Congress shows guts

Fundamental to Bush administration strategy is trifling with the truth in domestic and foreign affairs to get its way with a trusting, if not gullible, Congress and public.

The record is awful. Eliminating the surplus and creating trillions of dollars in new debt is good, the Bush White House assured us. Allowing polluters more freedom is good for jobs, they argued. War against Iraq is necessary because of an imminent threat to the United States, they insisted. Mission accomplished in Iraq, they claimed. We don't need the United Nations, they promised.

However, the worms are beginning to turn. Congress and the public are realizing how many times they’ve been had by spurious White House claims and promises that have been exposed as fabrications and deceit.

So, Congress wisely and promptly rebuked the Bush Department of Energy last week when Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham (a onetime out-of-office U.S. senator who once tried to abolish DOE) asked to redefine some highly radioactive nuclear waste as low in radioactivity so it could be left in place at various disposal sites or sent to minimal burial grounds.

The rationale for treating nuclear waste with cavalier disregard of its toxicity is that DOE wants to speed up disposal and save money.

How irresponsible. The perilous threat of radioactive material on the health of Americans can endure for thousands of years, although Secretary Abraham and his White House chain-pullers seem to regard it with the life expectancy of a four-year presidency.

Congressional thumbs-down on reclassifying waste upholds Idaho Federal District Judge Lynn Winmill’s rebuke of an earlier DOE effort to downgrade waste. It is a victory for the Snake River Alliance, which sued to block Energy’s attempt to avoid cleanup at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, where waste lies just above the aquifer serving Southern Idaho.

Obviously, DOE has no better standing or believability with Congress than when it tried going around Judge Winmills’s order.

It now falls to Congress to adequately fund proper disposal of nuclear waste, and put an end to DOE’s cut-rate disposal plans.

While it’s at it, Congress should add to its appropriation a terse, unmistakably clear order for DOE (and the White House) to end the dangerous trifling with volatile radioactive waste and place the nation’s well-being over its political hostility toward public health costs.



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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.