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Don’t Tamper With Nuke Waste Pact

Tue., Oct. 22, 1996

Don’t blame yourself if you’re confused about Proposition 3, the initiative seeking to void Idaho’s nuclear waste agreement with the U.S. government.

You’re not alone.

A recent poll showed 80 percent of the voters believe the debate on this issue has become so politicized they can’t decide which side is telling the truth.

On one side, inflammatory television ads, funded by actor Bruce Willis and promoted by Democratic candidates, would have Idahoans believe their state will become the world’s nuclear waste dump if the initiative fails. On the other, Gov. Phil Batt and Get The Waste Out, a group of Idaho’s civic and business leaders, contend the measure could throw the state’s doors open to endless shipments.

Maybe we can help clarify matters.

The Spokesman-Review has felt all along that Batt’s deal with the U.S. government last October was the best one possible for a small Western state negotiating from a position of weakness. At the time, a U.S. Navy official had persuaded the U.S. House of Representatives to allow 1,940 more shipments of high-level nuclear waste into Idaho for national security reasons.

Batt was cornered. It was only a matter of time before the U.S. Energy Department forced Idaho to accept more nuclear waste. Rather than roll over, however, he worked out an agreement in which Idaho accepted 1,133 more shipments in exchange for deadlines, enforcement penalties and guarantees for the ultimate removal of all such waste. The removal guarantees are enforceable in federal court.

Equally significant, the pact prevents any of the nation’s commercial nuclear waste - 92,000 shipments - from being stored in Idaho. A federal court has ruled the government must begin disposing of that waste in 1998.

No other state has such protection.

Proposition 3 would torpedo that protection. And, it would require legislative support and a popular vote for any future nuclear waste deals. In other words, it would tie the hands of progressive leaders like Phil Batt.

And Cecil Andrus. Yep. Ex-Democratic governor Andrus upset partisans by endorsing Batt’s agreement last year. Initiative spokesman John Peavey even hinted that Andrus had sold out to the nuclear industry. This, after Andrus did everything possible during his tenure to fight waste shipments.

Andrus knows a good deal when he sees one. He knows the initiative is a paper tiger that could turn around and bite Idaho residents if they’re not careful.

Vote “no” on Proposition 3.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, ENDORSEMENT, COLUMN - Our View CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board

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