citydesk (4/15/09) 

Nukes and QOL

Nuke hearing imminent

On April 22, the Elmore County Commission will consider a proposal from Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., a nuclear power developer, to convert some 1,280 acres west of Hammett from agriculture land to heavy industrial use.

AEHI wants to build a nuclear power plant just north of the Snake River in Elmore County. The site is about 60 miles southeast of Boise.

But county commissioners do not want to hear about the benefits or dangers of nuclear energy at the hearing.

"At this hearing, the subject of nuclear power or ultimate land use proposed by the applicant will not be considered. The hearing is solely intended to address the proposed zone change," reads the announcement for the public hearing.

But despite the limited scope of the hearing, AEHI has been distributing DVDs in Elmore County touting the safety and benefits of nuclear power and is holding a job fair outside of the hearing. The company announced that it would encourage job seekers to testify for the project.

But these practical considerations—nuclear energy and the economy—may not be in line with what the county commissioners will deliberate.

The Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended against the rezone in November 2008, stating that it was not in compliance with the county's comprehensive plan.

Snake River Alliance, a nuclear watchdog group, plans to testify against the rezone but also needs to somehow skirt the whole nuclear issue.

"We aren't going off about nuclear unless we have to specifically refer to water use," said Liz Woodruff, energy policy analyst for the group.

Still, SRA will argue that the rezone will allow for over-utilization of water, that area residents oppose the plant, that hazardous materials produced by the plant would threaten natural resources and that job promises are exaggerated.

The April 22 hearing begins at 6 p.m. at Mountain Home Junior High School in the gymnasium, 1600 East Sixth South, Mountain Home. Public testimony is limited to three minutes per person.

City rates itself

A survey commissioned by the City of Boise showed an above average rating for easy living, with 47 percent of respondents rating their quality of life as "excellent" compared to 29 to 31 percent of people nationwide.

But the demographic breakdowns on that stat are interesting, too.

Quality of life here is remarkably better than reported in the rest of the Mountain West, in towns of similar size to Boise and to the nation as a whole, according to Opinion Research Corp.

Southeast Boiseans have the best quality of life, followed by North and East Enders. Bench residents bring up the rear on QOL, but only 10 percent of them give the town a poor/fair rating.

Even more interesting, those in households making $75,000 or more a year have the best quality of life, followed by the $30,000 to $55,000 range. Those in between are not quite feeling that quality, perhaps as they claw their way to the top. And some 27 percent of those making less than $30 grand don't feel the QOL.

The biggest negative factor in quality of life: the economy and unemployment, which happens to be Boiseans' largest overall concern in this year's study as well.

The full survey is at citydesk.boiseweekly.com.

—Nathaniel Hoffman

war in Iraq

U.S. CASUALTIES: As of Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 4,276 U.S. service members (including 31 Idahoans) have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 3,432 in combat and 844 from non-combat-related incidents and accidents. Injured service members total 31,193. In the last week, eight U.S. soldiers died.

Since President Barack Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 47 soldiers have died.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Defense

IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS: Estimated between 91,385 to 99,774.

Source: iraqbodycount.net

COST OF IRAQ WAR: $613,366,447,532

Source: costofwar.com

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