How to Lobby Congress With a Hammer
By David Swanson, Board Member of Progressive Democrats of America, http://www.pdamerica.org
Over 100 people, few if any of them employed by the corporate media, filled a press conference room in the US Capitol on Monday to hear artists, advocates, and experts speak against the current energy bill and against a proposal to dump the nation's nuclear waste on the land of a native American tribe in Utah.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich opened the proceedings, welcomed the speakers, and began by denouncing the activities of the Private Fuel Storage Limited Liability Consortium (PFS), which has proposed this latest "solution" to the problem of nuclear waste. Did you know these matters were being handled by a private organization AND that it conveniently has LIMITED liability?
Kucinich called PFS's plan "unjust, dangerous, and unnecessary." He said it violates the rights of the tribe whose land is thus ruined, and puts the whole country at risk of a catastrophe in the transportation of the waste to Utah. He said that 60 members of Congress had written to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about this, and have yet to receive any response.
Kucinich spoke also of this country's long history of abusing the rights of native Americans and urged those listening to move beyond that history.
Navin Nayak of the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) spoke next and MC'd the event. "The U.S. Congress," he said, "stands on the precipice of passing an energy bill that would reproduce the mistakes of the past 50 years." From 1950 to 1997, he said, the federal government has spent $500 billion subsidizing fossil fuels and nuclear power, but only $25 billion on renewables.
Despite that, Nayak pointed out, wind power is the fastest growing power globally, and the cost of it has fallen by 80 percent in recent years.
The energy bill now under consideration would give billions to nuclear energy and subsidize the building of new plants, something we haven't done for 30 years, Nayak said.
The first speaker Nayak introduced set a tone of serious dedication and sacrifice. He was actor and activist James Cromwell, and he said that if anyone tries to move 44 thousand metric tons of nuclear waste across the country, "It's going to be blocked, the same way it was in Germany. But in this country, to stand in front of those trains, as I will be doing, is a violation of the PATRIOT Act and it is an act of terrorism and punishable by life in prison."
Cromwell seemed confident that others, young and old, would stand with him in front of the trains. He said that young people would not allow the country's future to be put at risk by nuclear waste. "It's our children and our children's children who will be affected by this technology, and it is up to us to stop it. I hope you will join us."
Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls spoke next. She said that the Indigo Girls have been a part of a campaign called Honor the Earth, and have worked on this issue with Winona LaDuke since 1992. Back then, she said, they opposed a bill that they called "Mobile Chernobyl," which would have transported the waste to Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
"When that took too long to work out," she said, "they created this limited liability consortium (PFS) so as not to have the liability that they should ... No one wants the nuclear waste, and we're targeting minority communities with it. We need to stop producing it."
Ray pointed out that Yucca Mountain is in an earthquake zone, but noted that Skull Valley, Utah, (the current site targeted) is near an Air Force bombing range.