It hasn't gone unnoticed by anti-nuclear groups. The Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), based in the Washington, DC, area, issued an alert to its members on February 5th asking them to attend the scoping meetings.
There are two sites proposed in Idaho. One is a site at Atomic City led by EnergySolutions Inc. in Salt Lake City. The other is a site at the Idaho National Laboratory led by the Regional Development Alliance, an economic development organization in Idaho Falls. The Idaho Falls meeting is March 15th at the Red Lion Inn (aka Westbank) from 6:00-9:30 PM.
DOE reminds the public that what's on the line are efforts to design, build, and operate three, new major league nuclear facilities.
- A nuclear fuel recycling center, which would separate spent nuclear fuel into reusable and waste components and then manufacture new nuclear fast reactor fuel using the reusable components.
- An advanced recycling reactor, which would destroy long-lived radioactive elements in the new fuel while generating electricity.
- An advanced fuel cycle research facility, which would perform research and development into spent nuclear fuel recycling processes and other advanced nuclear fuel cycles.
- Provide nuclear fuel and recycling services in return for other countries giving up nuclear enrichment and potential bomb making processes
- Development of proliferation-resistant nuclear power reactors suitable for use in developing economies. (such as India)
In FY2007 the government asked for $250M for GNEP, but the current House mark in the omnibus appropriation bill this week puts its funding at less than half that amount. The proposed $395M in the FY2008 request for GNEP's "Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative" represents two fold increase over FY2006 in funding for the Office of Nuclear Energy bringing it to a total of $802M.
The Idaho National Laboratory has a significant stake in the outcome of the budget process for DOE. It would receive a $60M increase in FY2008 for the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative over the FY2006 funding level. FY2007 numbers still aren't in due to the inability of Congress to get past a continuing resolution funding the government at FY2006 levels.
It is likely the Democrats, who now hold majorities in both chambers, will question the Department of Energy's GNEP plans. The fight won't be just over the amount of the appropriation for GNEP. New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman, who is chairman of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, thinks the money requested for GNEP might be better spent on energy efficiency and solar power.
Energy policy on the House side, as led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca), focuses on ethanol which plays big in midwestern states that grow a lot of corn, like Iowa, which is where the first Democratic primaries will take place for the 2008 presidential election.
There's enough excitement here to ask where's the tee-shirt for the GNEP 11-city tour?