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At least 15 dead as severe weather sweeps across central US; on Memorial Day, IA labor leaders honor fallen workers; Medical center installs microgrid to safeguard clinic power supply; 'Second look' laws gain traction, but MS sticks to elderly parole; Will summer heat melt New Mexicans' cravings for ice cream?

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One congressman cites ways Biden could get more support from communities of color. A new Louisiana law reclassifies two abortion medications as controlled substances. And Ohio advocates work to boost youth voter turnout.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Comment Period Open for Experimental Nuclear Tech in Eastern ID

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Friday, March 24, 2023   

The U.S. Department of Energy has opened a short public-comment window on an experimental nuclear technology in Idaho.

The agency has released a draft environmental assessment for testing of what's known as "molten chloride fast reactor" technology at the Idaho National Laboratory. The technology is from TerraPower, a company owned by Bill Gates that is developing nuclear reactor designs.

Leigh Ford, executive director of the Snake River Alliance, is critical of the experiment, saying it won't benefit Idaho.

"First, nuclear energy is too slow and expensive to help with the climate crisis," she said. "The environmental assessment says that maybe 10 jobs will be created, but we're not sure if those people are from Idaho or not. And third, the waste created from this experiment will stay in Idaho."

Ford said the technology uses highly enriched uranium, which presents proliferation fears. She also said the assessment doesn't properly address impacts to ground and surface water in eastern Idaho. The Energy Department has said it's committed to reviving and expanding domestic nuclear energy to help the United States reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Ford pointed out that the agency is giving the public a total of two weeks to react to this draft assessment.

"Fourteen days is not enough time for folks to digest this document, let alone make meaningful comments," she said. "Not to mention, we have a large rural population in Idaho that may not use email, may not have the greatest connectivity, may not be able to access this document online."

The public comment period began March 17. People have until March 31 to submit their thoughts on the assessment.

Disclosure: Snake River Alliance contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Environment, Nuclear Waste, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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Ice cream makers in the U.S. produce more than 1.38 billion gallons of ice cream annually, with consumption usually peaking in July. (auremar/Adobe Stock)

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