This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
EnergySolutions has deep pockets. And thanks to the benevolence of the company and a bill pending before Congress, U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop does, too.
The nuclear waste disposal firm and its executives have donated $28,200 to the Utah congressman's re-election campaign in the current election cycle, including nearly $25,000 since April. That's more than 40 percent of the money Bishop has received.
While Bishop is practically on the payroll, you can't claim the company is trying to buy his affection. A former lobbyist for the firm when it was known as Envirocare, Bishop has been a big EnergySolutions' booster from the start. As a congressman, he supported EnergySolutions' attempt to dispose of hotter radioactive waste than the state allows at the company's dump in Tooele County.
But perhaps the largesse will make Bishop work extra hard to defeat a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, that would ban the importation of radioactive waste from abroad and wisely reserve our nation's dwindling disposal space for domestic waste. And it's certainly an attempt to bolster his re-election effort.
Bishop, who should stand up and scream "Not in my district!" opposes the bill, which was drafted in response to EnergySolutions' plan to dump low-level radioactive waste from Italy in Utah. He claims that bringing hazardous waste into the country is a state, not a national, issue, and Congress should not get involved. Bishop's opponent in the November election, Democrat Morgan Bowen, supports the ban.
It's an issue that, perhaps, could leave Bishop vulnerable as he seeks a fourth term in Congress. While Utah's 1st Congressional District has been gerrymandered to favor the Republican candidate, the distaste for EnergySolutions' attempt to import foreign waste to Utah crosses party lines. Opponents include Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman, the Utah Radiation Control Board and thousands of citizens who have expressed their objections in letters to the editor and correspondence with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which will rule on the request.
What Bishop seems to forget is that he serves all of the people of Utah's 1st Congressional District, not just the folks at EnergySolutions who fill his campaign coffer and will personally benefit from opening the doors at the dump to a flood of foreign nuclear waste. Serving the nation's nuclear waste disposal needs is one thing. Turning Utah into the world's nuclear garbage dump is quite another.