[Marxism] Nuking Canyonlands?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Mar 28 12:41:05 MDT 2012

Counterpunch March 28, 2012
The Latest Threat to Ed Abbey Country
Nuking Canyonlands?

A coalition of private citizens and activist groups filed suit in 
the Utah court system yesterday afternoon to force a proper review 
of a water rights application that is intended to provide cooling 
water for a proposed nuclear power plant in the vicinity of two 
national parks, namely Arches and Canyonlands. If built, this 
power plant would completely evaporate 53,600 acre-feet of water 
from the Green River, which is the last hope and refuge for a 
barely-clinging-to-life population of native fish.

Some thirty-years ago vocal activists such as Ed Abbey, David 
Brower, Randy Hayes warned the public that unless people got 
engaged, the transformation of the Colorado Plateau, from a 
stunning wilderness to an energy colony, would soon be complete.

On the shoulders of the Colorado River basin, of which the Green 
is the major most tributary, other colonizing energy developments 
continue to invade into a space that basically remains unspoiled 
with sun-drenched beauty. This includes the relentless advancement 
of fracking operations for both gas and oil, strip mining 
proposals for coal, tar sands and oil shale. Fortunately, the call 
is being heeded to protect a watershed that John Wesley Powell 
predicted would eventually fall into collapse unless the spirit of 
community arose to protect it.

In 2007 a company known as Blue Castle Holdings was formed in Utah 
with the purpose of building a nuclear power plant in a farming 
community also known as Green River. As required by law, the Utah 
Division of Water Rights, led by the State Engineer Kent Jones, is 
processing an application to transfer points of water diversion 
from San Juan County (San Juan River) and Kane County (Colorado 
River), to Emery County (Green River). These water rights were 
originally targeted for coal-fired generation of electricity, 
which are no longer considered feasible to develop.

In 2009 various non-profit organizations, businesses, and 
individuals filed timely protests, which the State Engineer has 
supposedly considered for parts of three-years. The requirements 
that Jones must consider for this water rights application 
include: 1) existing water rights will not be impaired; 2) will 
not prove detrimental to the public welfare; 3) are physically 
feasible; and 4) are economically feasible and not judged to be 
speculative—by showing adequate funding for the completion of this 
project (estimated cost is $16-20 billion).

What clearly should have been a slam-dunk denial, Jones shirked 
his responsibility and essentially passed the buck to the pending 
review agencies of the federal government, and specifically the 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This was to be expected, because no 
state in the Colorado River basin would dare to constrain 
themselves from taking more water from a river that has absolutely 
nothing left to give. Especially Utah, the patriarchal society 
that too has been transformed from a lifestyle of Adamic husbandry 
to wild party capitalism. Even the most notorious water developer 
of all time, the Bureau of Reclamation, asked Jones to use caution 
when considering this application.
For example, on the matter of speculation, the developer Blue 
Castle Holdings became embroiled in financial controversy last 
January when one of their proposed investors, LeadDog Capital, was 
cited by the Securities Exchange Commission with fraud. The gloomy 
clouds from the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) 
controversy of the 1970s are now shadowing in Utah. BCH then 
scrubbed their webpage of all documents that expressed their 
initial exuberance with this now fraudulent financial partner, and 
then had the audacity to issue a press release explaining that the 
Salt Lake Tribune was exaggerating the facts. Did this public 
display of alleged he-said-she-said inspire Jones to reconsider 
his decision? No, it did not, and thus the community that will 
bear all the impacts of his bad decision must now go to court.

For more information visit the web page of Uranium Watch, a 
project of Living Rivers.

JOHN WEISHEIT is the conservation director of Living Rivers and 
the Colorado Riverkeeper

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