News » Citydesk

Nuke as We Say, Not as We Nuke

by

As expected ... feared ... whatever, President Bush unveiled his $2.77 trillion federal budget for FY2007 this week, and in it were four words sure to produce plenty of heated debate over the coming decades: Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. We say "decades" because despite Bush's proposed $250 million initial investment, this particular program is one for the distant future--and one that a wide swath of scientists and nuke watchdogs in Idaho and elsewhere are calling fanciful at best, and dangerous at worse. The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership is a plan to "reprocess" or recycle irradiated nuclear fuel, an idea that has been bandied for decades but was abandoned in the 1970s for its spendiness, and for fears that it could help the ubiquitous "bad guys" could get their hands on weapons-grade plutonium. Those concerns still haven't been met, said a letter to legislators from a handful of groups including Idaho's Snake River Alliance. "These proposed expenditures, especially at a time of significant budget restraints, are a misguided diversion of federal resources and risk seriously undermining U.S. national security," the groups write. Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman disagreed, saying in his Feb. 6 press conference, "If we can make GNEP a reality, we can make the world a better, cleaner and safer place to live." This one is gearing up to be a dogfight; follow links with this story at www.boiseweekly.com to read the arguments of both sides.