TUESDAY November 18, 2003
|Bennett sides with Walker on waste
By Judy Fahys
The Salt Lake Tribune
U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett said Monday he was aligned with
Gov. Olene Walker in opposing the disposal of "hotter" nuclear waste in
The Utah Republican said news reports had
left a misimpression that the two are "on different sides" of a growing
controversy over whether cleanup waste from Ohio and New York should be
allowed to go a Tooele County landfill.
"I am very
comfortable we are on the same page," Bennett said in a Salt Lake Tribune
editorial board meeting. "I didn't come out and say it in exactly those
words, but that's where I am and that's where I want you to put me down."
Bennett has stressed the importance of disposing of
radioactive waste safely, and in recent years pushed for federal
regulatory changes that would allow more radioactive waste to be disposed
of at Envirocare of Utah, a privately owned landfill in Tooele County.
The new governor has vowed to block more
concentrated waste that may come to Utah thanks to wording in the energy
and water spending bill now pending in Congress. Bennett helped develop
that measure, but claims he was not aware of the specific provision that
would reclassify the Ohio and New York waste to allow its disposal at
Bennett's remarks came as the hot-waste
issue was heating up in the Utah Capitol and on the streets.
Salt Lake City residents Gloria Hanson and Sue Burbidge spent Monday
morning outside a post office and a grocery store asking passers-by to
sign their petition opposing the waste provision in the spending bill.
"We are very against this," said Hanson, like
Burbidge a newcomer to petition politics. "We think it was done in an
"That just seemed unfair to us,"
added Burbidge. "I have children and grandchildren here, and I just don't
want to leave them a legacy of toxic waste in their back yards."
The two self-proclaimed "ordinary people" estimated
more than nine of every 10 individuals they approached signed their
petition. That gave them 324 additional names of opponents to send to Utah
Republicans in Congress and to Walker.
expected their petitions would accomplish their goal of defeating the bill
when it comes to congressional votes this week. Said Burbidge: "It seems
like it's already done."
At the state Capitol, lawmakers were preparing for a meeting today of the
state's hazardous and radioactive waste task force, which listed the New
York and Ohio waste as an agenda item.
legislative task force, halfway through a 21-month study of the state's
policies and taxes on Utah's waste industry, invited officials from the
Utah Department of Environmental Quality to brief them on the
Task force co-chairman
Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, has proposed legislation to require plans
for the Ohio and New York waste to get the same political approvals --
from the governor and the Legislature -- that are necessary for other new
Under current law, the Energy
Department waste would not require any state approvals because the waste
is slated to go in a section of Envirocare that is under federal control.
The state, however, is seeking that regulatory authority.
Bennett said he was looking for a way to stop the
Energy Department plan for the waste. But he noted that Utah has had a
policy of accepting radioactive waste ever since it gave Envirocare its
license 15 years ago.
The senator said recent
developments in the state's culture have led to an attitude opposing
radioactive waste regardless of its hazard level and that the economic
benefits of not having a big waste industry are greater.
"We want to be known as the state that had the
Olympics, rather than the state that takes nuclear waste," Bennett said.
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