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E-M:/ Energy Companies Trying to Pull a Fast One

For Immediate Release
May 22, 2002

Alice Hirt                      Kym Spring                              Kevin Kamps
Donít Waste Michigan            Clean Water Action                      Nuclear Information and
Phone: 616-335-3405             Phone: 616-742-4084                     Resource Service (NIRS)
AliceH777@aol.com               grandrapids@cleanwater.org              Phone: 202-328-0002
                                www.cleanwateraction.org                Kevin@nirs.org

Energy Companies Trying to Pull a Fast One

-- Energy companies have steam rolled through Michigan with a highly effective, local lobbying effort.

Spence Abraham, the Secretary of Energy, approved a plan to use Yucca Mountain as a national repository for nuclear waste on February 14th, 2002, in spite of hundreds of unanswered questions from the General Accounting Office.

Just five days later, the Michigan Association of Counties Board passed a resolution supporting the plan contained in a 67 pound document.

Kym Spring, Clean Water Actionís Campaign Coordinator isnít fooled.

 ďObviously, the utility companies started lining up support before the plan was even approved by the Department of Energy or the President.  Even a speed-reader degreed in nuclear physics could not comprehend that amount of information in just five days.  Clearly, they relied on the overly optimistic assessment pushed by nuclear industry spin doctors,Ē Spring said yesterday.

Elected officials in Monroe County, and many others across the state, are ignoring the citizens they represent.  Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison have been convincing county board after county board to pass resolutions supporting the plan to send nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain.  All across the state, citizens are stunned to discover, after the fact, that their county board has approved such a resolution. 

In Monroe County, Detroit Edison representatives were scheduled ample time to present their rendition of "facts" supporting shipments to Yucca Mountain to the County Board.  Citizens' were held to a three-minute rebuttal amid comments by current and retired utility workers.  The meetings were stacked with utility workers as the resolution was considered. 

"I am appalled by a process that denies citizens the opportunity to both learn that a resolution will be presented and a process that does not afford adequate opportunity to redress this nuclear locomotive.   What results is the illusion that there is public support.  What was clear is: vote with the utility and pick up your next campaign contribution, an all too familiar politics of prostitution," stated Michael Keegan, a Monroe County resident.

Keegan also pointed out that he had not learned of the resolution until the day the meeting and vote were scheduled to take place.  This was published in a local paper which also stated that the County Commissioners had already signed the resolution and voiced their support. Citizens are furious at this violation of the open meetings act.  The resolution initially failed in a four to four deadlock.  Two weeks later the resolution was reintroduced and passed eight to one.

Citizens across the state point out that county boards should balance the skewed information from utility companies with hard, scientific facts, and acknowledge unanswered questions. 

Even the General Accounting Office (GAO), after reviewing the Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission Yucca Mountain plan, had 293 unanswered questions.  The GAO estimates that it will take researchers until 2006 to address these gaps of critical information.

ďI donít know how this resolution supporting the Yucca Mountain plan passed in my county.   County officials should give citizens the chance to express their concerns.  I pay close attention to issues so critical to our county and country.  I didnít even know they were considering this resolution until the last minute.  I am very upset with the process and the outcome.  I thought our county officials were supposed to represent we, the people, not just Consumers Energy,Ē said Annie Olson, a disgruntled citizen of Ottawa County.

The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners passed their resolution in support of the Yucca Mountain on May 14th, 2002.

A huge ground swell of opposition to Yucca Mountain is building as fast as the information in the report can be digested and conveyed.  Hundreds of organizations are getting up to speed on this issue and taking a stand against the plan to send nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain in Nevada. 

The Governor of Nevada already voted against the plan.  It takes a simple majority vote in the U.S. Congress to override his veto.  The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of overriding his veto on May 8th.  The U.S. Senate is likely to vote on this issue in the next 3-8 weeks. 

Environmentalists, as well as many other groups like Donít Waste Michigan and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service want citizens to know that this plan does not solve the problems associated with the dangerous build up of nuclear waste.  They are trying to inform the public about the dangers of transporting and storing nuclear waste at the Yucca site.  Citizens are being urged to contact their Senators immediately.  Senators Levin and Stabenow have stated they currently support the Yucca Mountain plan.