Salazar on ‘listening tour’ but won’t listen to Utah solons 

Ken Salazar, the former Colorado senator appointed in 2009 by President Obama as Secretary of the Interior, is on a “listening tour” out west this week while Congress is on its traditional August recess. But a Salazar “listening tour” appears not to include listening to Democratic and Republican members of the Utah delegation to Congress even though the Interior chief is spending the day in the state.

The five-member Utah delegation includes Republican senators Orrin Hatch and Robert Bennett, plus GOP representatives Rob Bishop and Jason Chafetz, plus Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson.

The Utahns are united in opposing a proposal to allow storage of spent nuclear waste materials at a location in which at least 80 percent of the state’s population lives within 50 miles. But that fact only begins to describe the problems with the site, according to a letter from the delegation to Salazar requesting a meeting today:

“As you know, the PFS facility would be a private, above-ground facility designed to store up to four thousand casks of high-level spent nuclear fuel. Previous to the PFS plan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had only licensed sites holding up to 60 casks. However, the PFS facility would be up to 65 times larger than any other private facility.

“In addition, PFS could not have chosen a more dangerous location for the above ground storage of nuclear waste, The proposed site is inside the military operations area of the Air Force’s Utah Testing and Training Range (UTTR). The UTTR is the largest contiguous overland block of supersonic authorized airspace in the continental United States.

“It should also be noted the UTTR is the Air Force’s only cruise missile test range and is one of only two Air Combat Command approved Joint Direct Attack Munition ranges. In fact, the site is directly over a preferred access route for aircraft traveling from Hill Air Force Base.

“In addition, the location of several military aircraft crashes are within sight of the proposed site. The Delegation believes this is particularly relevant since approximately 80 percent of Utah’s population lives within 50 miles of the PFS site.”

A spokesman for Bishop said an aide let the congressmen know that Salazar would not be meeting with them but would be glad to send an Interior staff person to hear their concerns.

Apparently Salazar wasn’t there that day in Congress when they talked about the rule presidential cabinet secretaries never, ever offer to send an aide when an entire state congressional delegation is clamoring for a face-to-face meeting on a potentially life-and-death issue for the whole state.

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Mark Tapscott

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