The Latest Bounce

 

The country's next nuclear power plant may be built in Idaho. The Department of Energy's "Nuclear Power 2010" initiative aims to get a new plant built somewhere in the U.S. by the end of the decade. One of three DOE sites under consideration is the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), which a year ago announced that it had detected elevated levels of plutonium in the Snake River Aquifer (HCN, 5/21/01: Plutonium in your potatoes?).

Former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt will head a new international division of Cadiz, Inc., the California company that wants to develop a Mojave Desert aquifer as an underground reservoir (HCN, 5/21/01: Will the Met wring the desert dry?). The new Cadiz subsidiary will focus on water projects in the Middle East.

Environmental groups have appealed to the Bonneville Power Administration not to repeat last summer, when the administration sacrificed over a million migrating salmon smolts for cheap power (HCN, 6/18/01: Transforming powers). Instead, the greens want the administration to call on a $250 million credit line with the U.S. Treasury if it gets into financial trouble. BPA says that it plans to increase power rates this summer and leave the water for the fish.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation will be cleaned up within our lifetime, says the Bush administration (HCN, (9/1/97: Radioactive waste from Hanford is seeping toward the Columbia). Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham has announced that the agency will accelerate cleanup operations 40 years sooner than the current estimated completion date of 2070. In order to forward the cleanup, the agency has requested a $433 million budget increase.

Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo. has renewed his call for a single "fire czar" to oversee the National Fire Plan. Two General Accounting Office reports have questioned the effectiveness of the fire plan and called for a more coordinated interagency effort to reduce wildfire threats to Western communities (HCN, 8/27/01: Fire plan gets a scolding). McInnis says that if the Agriculture and Interior departments don't consolidate their fire plans quickly, his forests subcommittee will take the matter into its own hands.