In less than a month the county will decide the fate of the AEHI nuclear plant proposal.
And both AEHI and its primary opposition, the Snake River Alliance, will be launching a full-court press to lobby local citizens to their side.
AEHI will try and tell you the modern nuclear industry is safe and clean. The SRA will try to scare you into believing it isn't. Keep in mind, this is the same group whose concern for our community was so great not too many years ago that they advocated closing the airbase. And we all remember the kind of tactics of truth they used then.
In truth, the modern nuclear industry, which is rapidly evolving as governments stress "green" energy from nuclear sources, is one of the safest on the planet. And it is heavily regulated and monitored. The odds of something going wrong today are very, very low. Of course, if they do go wrong, the consequences can range from almost no effect to very, very bad.
But none of us here have the training or expertise to properly evaluate the technical aspects of this proposal. For that, we'll rely on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and all the other state and federal agencies that would have so sign off on this plan. They do have the expertise. And unlike the paid experts that may be dragged into the coming argument by both sides, the government experts have a vested interest in being neutral. We'll accept their expertise.
So in the end, the county commissioners have to make a decision, not about the technical qualifications of nuclear power plants, but about land use. And it will come down, for the commissioners at least, to a classic case of jobs versus quality of life.
If they approve this rezone and a subsequent conditional use permit (which we would encourage them to be very tough with), then some jobs will begin to be created right away, and if the government approves the technical parts of the nuclear plant, then down the road a huge number of very good paying jobs will be created. In addition, the assessed valuation of the county would rise so fast that your county tax bill would fall through the floor.
All of those are pluses.
But quality of life has to be given equal consideration by the commissioners. The people who live in the Indian Cove area do so for a reason. They like the quiet lifestyle of the area. They don't want hundreds of trucks going by their homes every day during construction. They don't want an industrial facility in their neighborhood. They want the quiet, idyllic life they enjoy along the river.
If the plant were to be approved, that quality of life there would disappear and we can never get it back.
So that's the minus.
In the end, that's the issue the commissioners must decide -- quality of life versus jobs and economics. It's the kind of decision commissioners often face. But few will have so great an impact.
Now is the time to let them know what you think.