Recognizing that more work is needed, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter signed an executive order today during a visit to the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) establishing the Leadership in Nuclear Energy (LINE) Commission 2.0.
The original LINE Commission was given a year to assess and quantify the opportunities and challenges associated with hosting the INL and a significant nuclear manufacturing and services sector that has emerged as a result of the U.S. Department of Energy site. The Commission wrapped up its initial scope of work at the end of January, submitting its final report to the Governor.
"The men and women who served on the initial commission and its five subcommittees did a lot of heavy lifting over the past year, and I thank them for their service. They identified many things the State and INL have done right over the years, and they brought to the forefront several issues that demand continued attention -- namely, the nation's failure to open a permanent used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste repository and significant budget cuts that threaten continued cleanup and research operations in Idaho," Governor Otter said. "With other states potentially targeting the federal dollars that have so efficiently been put to use on INL's successful cleanup and research efforts, Idaho must aggressively assert its support for the site's future as the nation's lead nuclear lab. So it's critical to extend and expand the Commission's duties through LINE 2.0."
In the executive order creating LINE 2.0, the Governor emphasizes that fiscal responsibility demands that the INL's assets be fully leveraged to carry out federal responsibilities for nuclear energy research oversight and materials management -- rather than allowing tax dollars to be wasted creating redundant facilities and programs elsewhere.
Governor Otter said he's seen efforts by several other states to support and expand their nuclear industry clusters. The success of his Project 60 efforts to grow Idaho's total economic output to $60 billion a year and beyond depends on Idaho being equally aggressive in working to strengthen the climate for nuclear energy education, research, manufacturing and operations, he said.
The LINE Commission 2.0 will remain advisory in nature. It will be responsible for monitoring implementation of the recommendations in the initial commission's final report; and tracking and assessing activities in Congress, the federal government and other states with significant nuclear energy research and operations to ensure Idaho's and INL's interests are preserved.
Its responsibilities also will include identifying and recommending appropriate actions on federal budget and policy decisions that could undermine the INL's long-term operations; identifying additional opportunities and investments that can be made in the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES), Idaho's universities and general research, transportation and communications infrastructure to advance the INL's mission; providing a means of continuing a robust and open dialogue with the public on the INL's future and Idaho's broader nuclear industries sector; and evaluating policy options for strengthening that sector.
"The findings of my initial LINE Commission reinforced the importance of constantly working to balance the benefits and burdens of hosting the nation's leading nuclear energy research center, and of paying attention to the kind of business environment we have for Idaho's nuclear industries sector beyond the INL," Governor Otter said. "Idaho's safety and economic security demand a stronger public-private partnership on this issue, and creating LINE 2.0 is one of the best possible ways of achieving that."
The membership of LINE 2.0 will be drawn from State government, academia, Idaho's nuclear industries sector and the general public.