Idaho could be one of the most prosperous states in the nation simply by consolidating existing nuclear programs. The dollars for this prosperity are already being spent elsewhere on projects that ought to be Idaho’s. When we say prosperity, we don’t mean a few hundred new jobs in Eastern Idaho, but billions of dollars coming by redirecting those existing activities and dollars to Idaho where they belong.

We mean benefits to individuals like 16 years of tuition free education for every resident, or no personal property tax or registration or license fees. The entire State of Idaho could have world-class education, infrastructure, and health care systems. Ways exist to create an Idaho/federal agreement with Idaho supporting future nuclear power and fuel research IN RETURN for significant funds and controls for that cooperation.This opportunity already exists because world-wide energy demands and climatological planners need huge quantities of emission-free power that only wind, solar, and nuclear can provide. Idaho has a perfectly positioned energy opportunity making the oil discoveries in Texas, Alaska, and North Dakota only previews of the possible prosperity facing a nuclear Idaho. Many billions will be spent on nuclear technologies in the next few decades. Bring them here.

Most pieces necessary for this prosperity are already in place. These include the designation of the INL as the nation’s lead nuclear laboratory, billions of dollars already spent on the necessary facilities and infrastructures, the permits, procedures, licenses and authorities, and the worlds leading nuclear scientists and professionals. These pieces already exist, are paid for, and available to make Idaho prosper.

As the world’s energy needs increase, and as energy from coal, gas and hydropower decrease, the need for even larger amounts of nuclear, wind, and solar power expands. Nuclear power was developed here in Idaho and the resulting industry from that Idaho-born breakthrough has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry raising the standard of living for over a billion people - elsewhere.

Fears for public safety and the aquifer have been proven false. For example, fifty-two reactors have been safely operated at INL producing tremendous benefits for science, energy, and medicine for nearly seven decades. Most of those reactors have been dismantled and their sites fully restored to natural conditions, and groundwater leaving the INL still meets federal and state drinking water and agricultural standards.

Additionally, the INL has safely handled huge quantities of nuclear material over the last seventy years as tons of materials have been packaged, stored, processed, and shipped away for disposal elsewhere with complete safety to both the public and the aquifer. For example, on July 17, the Idaho Press reported that the INL had finished shipping 26,000 cubic yards of plutonium contaminated soil from an eastern weapons facility to a disposal facility in New Mexico. This was an enormous and important accomplishment for which Idahoan’s received nothing.

The tragedy of Idaho’s poverty is that it is unnecessary. The opportunity to be the world leader in nuclear science has been here for seventy years. Idaho’s previous leaders were too short-sighted or intimidated to take advantage of past opportunities. Consequently, budgets, programs

and employees were continually reduced. Currently, Idaho’s Governor and four congressmen are working to bring nuclear funding to Idaho but most great opportunities are still being missed. And those missed opportunities are hurting Idahoan’s, and our future.

Paul Blacker is a retired advisory scientist for Idaho National Laboratory who spend 13 years as an adjunct faculty member at Idaho State University. 

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