Thursday, November 12, 2009

'Grassroots' Bend With the Wind

Citizens for a Clean Idaho is turning tail.

The Rexburg-based group, opposed to disposal of about 50,000 tons of rock and soil lightly contaminated with radioactivity from Missouri at a state-regulated facility owned by Boise-based American Ecology, has pulled its website in the face of defamation lawsuits filed by the company. You can read about that here, and my blog post about the group and its odd behavior here.

I still have my suspicions about the group. It seems odd to me that they should be so worried about a radioactive waste landfill all the way across the state, yet be willing to ignore the 70-plus-years nuclear legacy at the Idaho National Laboratory (where I work) just on the group's doorstep. Nor do they oppose Areva, Inc's plans to build a $3 billion uranium enrichment facility in Bonneville County, even closer to home.

If you're in the right, you don't shut down your website just because someone's suing you, at least in my opinion. Citizens for a Clean Idaho's organizer, Stephen Loosli, says the website has been pulled on the advice of his attorneys, who plan to countersue the company for infringing on CCI's First Amendment rights.

Aye, there's trouble. Because defamation, if American Ecology can prove it, isn't protected speech under the First Amendment. Thus CCI is being pretty cagey in stripping its site from the web. The Idaho Statesman reports, additionally, that CCI hasn't responded to a federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission report that called into question some of the group's claims about American Ecology's proposed plans.

I salute Citizens for a Clean Idaho's efforts to keep an eye on nuclear waste in the state. There's just enough off about what they're doing, though, to make the situation stink.

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