By Richard Garrett, Jr.


Even though a great deal of time so far this session has been devoted to legislation related to wind energy development, yesterday’s House Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee heard from sponsors about an alternative, and some would say, renewable source of energy — nuclear power. (Please note — its not my purpose to renew that debate!)

The bill, HB 0097 (to read it go to this page and click on the link to “2010 Bill Information” and then click on the bill title), proposes to authorize a task force study at a cost of $18,000 that would look into what might be described as the nuclear energy ecosystem in Wyoming.

Specifically, the task force would explore nuclear energy production and incentives, examine the use of unappropriated water, research state regulatory provisions that unduly restrict nuclear power plants, understand the role of local governments, identify federal statutes that may preempt or limit state authority, understand opportunities for nuclear waste storage and define the role of higher education in the state’s effort to promote the nuclear industry.

The task force would be obligated to produce a report to the House Minerals Committee no later than November 1, 2010 and that committee would in turn offer proposed legislation for next year’s session.

The task force would include two members each from the Senate and House and three individuals appointed by the governor. It was on this last point that the Wyoming Outdoor Council chose to focus our immediate concerns.


I testified on behalf of the Wyoming Outdoor Council that the authorizing legislation should not restrict the governor’s choices for participants on the task force and specifically urged the committee to encourage the governor to appoint task force study members from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and from the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources.

These selections would seem eminently practical and could lend a degree of expertise to the panel from existing state entities that should not be ignored. In particular, we are concerned about in-situ uranium mining impacts on ground water supplies (and we are also concerned about that practice’s impact on wildlife — in fact, Sophie Osborn, the Council’s wildlife biologist, is currently examining this issue).

We are very concerned that the task force study might prove a springboard to renewing the notion that Wyoming should become a dumping ground for radioactive waste.

The committee approved the bill and its funding will now be determined in the budget process. As always, the bill will have to be heard and win support on the opposite end of the capitol — in this case, in the Senate — and must also pass muster with the governor before it can be enacted.

I invite your thoughts and input on this bill and any others that have caught your attention.

Please feel free, as always, to email me at richard@wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org or call, 307-438-9516.

I also encourage you to let me know if you are in Cheyenne before the end of the session. It would be great to meet up, share ideas and show you around the capitol.

West Edge