Saturday, September 09, 2006

How the West Was Bureaucratized

You'd think after a couple hundred years of the American government pushing around Native Americans, telling them how and where to live their lives, it would finally leave them alone. Not so. A couple of days ago, the US Department of the Interior shot down an agreement between Private Fuel Storage (PFS) and the Skull Valley Goshutes reservation.

The agreement was pretty simple: let PFS dump spend fuel rods (nuclear waste) in an 820-acre corner of your 18,540-acre reservation and this coalition of energy companies will pay the reservation for the right to do so. For the record, there's 125 members of this reservation of which only 30 actually lives there. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

But in its infinite wisdom, the Interior stepped in and vetoed the deal, citing health risks and transportation problems. It's pretty clear the health concerns are bogus; the site occupies only 0.04% of the entire reservation. And the Goshutes aren't morons, either (see this link). So let's consider the transportation argument. Salt Lake City currently pays to dump some trash at the reservation, requiring 130 trucks a day along the two-lane State Route 196 (it appears the Department of Transporation is unwilling to expand the road). Because a recently declared state park blocks the path of a railway, the plan would require two additional slow moving trucks a week along that busy stretch of land.

This is a cruel joke played on the Goshutes: a government agency denies them their freedom because of the actions (or inaction) of other government agencies. In the wake of the decision, U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson declared "Utahns stand united against the East Coast dumping its nuclear garbage on the West." But only at the cost of accepting the East's most dangerous waste: bureaucracy.


Jason Br. said...

If I may bark at you for a moment: it's 4.4% of the reservation. 8^)

Anonymous said...

I noticed you didn't mention where this "820-acre corner" was. I think it would make a big difference if it was in town square or had another practical, historic, or spiritual purpose.


David said...

Curses Jason B; you are correct. Point still holds, though.

Jason, let me get this straight: you think that the people who live on the land would agree to a nuclear waste dump in their town square or on a spiritual site. Again, they are not stupid. They clearly think it's in a good enough space for them, so that's good enough for me.

Reverend Draco said...

Yet another case of Duh Gubmint stickin it's stoopid nose where it don't belong. . .
Indian Reservations are Sovereign lands. . . meaning, they don't have to follow a single one of our laws if they choose not to. And there is nothing 'we' can legally do about it.
Of course, the current administration has proven that they don't particularly care about the legality of an issue, only their megalomaniacal desires.