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Green Groups Drop Nuclear Plant Appeals

Judy Fahys
Matt Pacenza of HEAL Utah, Sarah Fields of Uranium Watch and John Weisheit of Living Rivers talk about the reasons for dropping their legal fight against the Blue Castle nuclear power plant proposal planned for Green River.

Environmental groups fighting what would be Utah’s first nuclear power plant are dropping their lawsuit over water rights. But they say they’re not abandoning the cause.

“What we are doing is essentially moving from fighting this in the courts to fighting it in the marketplace,” says Matt Pacenza, director of HEAL Utah.

Last month a state appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling that there is enough water for the proposed Blue Castle nuclear power plant. The court also affirmed that Utah’s top water official has the authority to transfer water rights from two downstate water districts to the reactors planned for Green River.

But environmentalists contend that the Blue Castle Project is already starved for cash -- and it won’t be able to raise $100 million it needs for a federal license application or more than $10 billion it will cost to actually build the plant

“This would affect the Canyonlands and our community for generations,” says Sarah Fields, director of Moab-based Uranium Watch. “So, we’re opposed to it, and we’ll continue to be opposed to it.”

Critics like Fields also doubt that federal regulators will sign off on Blue Castle because it depends on untapped water from the Colorado Basin.

Meanwhile, Blue Castle CEO Aaron Tilton insists the appeals court ruling actually clears the way for new investors to step up.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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