Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sen. Bennett for $9,000, Alex

It seems that $9,000 from a literally radioactive local company can get you favorable treatment from a embattled and still sitting U.S. Senator.
A Utah-based nuclear waste disposal firm fighting to allow the continued importation of foreign radioactive waste for disposal here has chosen who it is backing in the state's crowded Republican field for a U.S. Senate seat.

EnergySolutions Inc.'s political action committee has donated $9,000 to Sen. Bob Bennett's re-election campaign this year, snubbing fellow Republican Mark Shurtleff, who received a $10,000 donation from the company last year on his way to winning his third term as the state's attorney general.

Bennett is seeking his fourth term.

"EnergySolutions' PAC is funded by EnergySolutions employees and we are a very strong supporter of Sen. Bennett," said company spokeswoman Jill Sigal. "The EnergySolutions PAC supports pro-nuclear members of Congress and pro-nuclear candidates."
Would those employees also include management? What percentage of that money comes from management versus the lowest-paid employees, 90%?

So while Rep. Jim Matheson, who father developed cancer and died because of nuclear testing in Nevada, attempts to ban foreign nuclear waste from coming into Utah, Sen. Bennett is non-committal. Must be waiting for a few more checks to clear.
Bennett has not signed on as a co-sponsor to [Sen. Lamar] Alexander's bill [the Senate companion bill to the Matheson-Bart Gordon bill in the House].

In a one-sentence statement to The Associated Press, Bennett didn't say whether he supports a federal ban on importing radioactive waste. Instead, he said he would review a court decision saying whether a regional compact system Utah is a part of can ban foreign waste at a private dump.

In May, U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart ruled that the compact doesn't have authority over EnergySolutions' Utah facility.

Utah has filed notice saying it will appeal the case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

"I will carefully review the court's decision after the arguments have been made and the parties present their evidence," Bennett said.
What about the Democratic candidate for Senate, Sam Granato? Not much better.
"(Granato) is concerned that EnergySolutions is a business that is here in Utah that employs a lot of people in the Tooele area, and he doesn't want to turn them into the boogeyman like a lot of candidates have for political posturing," [Granato Campaign Manager Rob] Miller said.
Does that mean that Granato is doing a preemptive strike against Matheson? Is he worried Jim will get into the Senate race last minute after all? Why else would you make a not-so-subtle attack on Jim Matheson, the state's leading Democrat?

Personally, I think it is only fair that those who use nuclear to power their communities store it themselves near themselves and not outsource it to poor and/or rural areas. If you don't want it in your backyard, why should a private company get to trampse it through ours?

This stuff has a LONG half-life, longer than humans have been around and longer than we will probably be around. It isn't "political posturing" to be concerned about how this stuff can be safely transported through Utah (and other states) and safely stored for millienia. A private company interests are not aligned with these long-term needs. Rather, they want to make a buck and keep shareholders happy, which are extremely short-term interests.

Winning a Senate primary (and ultimately a general election) is only a slightly longer time horizon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reports show that unless we adopt something like the health care bill(s) in the US, thousands of Utahns will lose their health care next year. Yet I don't think anyone doubts that Reps. Bishop and Chafetz will vote against it.
Rep. Matheson has a number of issues with the bill, and since he sits on a key committee considering the bill, Pres. Obama invited Jim and his fellow Blue Dogs on key committee to the White House for a charm offensive.
Why is it so hard to convince our delegation (I am sure Hatch won't support it, Bennett might vote for some useful amendments) not to harm its constituents? Everyone living out in the real world knows that our health care system is broken. Insurance companies are doing harm and making life miserable for doctors, patients, and hospital staff in exchange for no real benefit. Coverage is illusionary and prohibitively expensive. Please stop standing in the way.