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Standing up for what's right August 25, 2008

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in Snake River Alliance.
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I’ve been asked a few times why we’re suing the Snake River Alliance, an anti-nuclear group. In an Aug. 11 story broadcast on KTVB Channel 7 and on KTVB.com, Andrea Shipley, their executive director, accused our company of being “scammers.”

No one takes on a job like building a nuclear plant because they’re looking for an easy path. We expect opposition, questions and even occasional ignorance and rudeness. But regardless of how you feel about nuclear energy, comparing a law-abiding enterprise to a fraudulent activity is beyond the pale and we must confront it. We have passed two SEC-required independent financial audits in our short history and if anything were even slightly amiss, we’d have heard about it from sources far more knowledgeable than the Snake River Alliance.

Shipley’s statements also insult investors – many of whom are Idahoans – and appear to be intended to reduce the value of their stock and defame them as well. The comments are especially offensive because the AEHI board consists of men who individually have 30 to 40 years of experience in the nuclear industry, including former senior executives, military officers and government officials who have received Presidential decoration. Investors, officers, directors and company consultants may individually take legal action against the Snake River Alliance as a result of these damaging remarks.

The statements are an outrage against these fine men who, in their retirement, are working without compensation to help the nation meet its energy needs. Our board, our team and our investors deserve better than for Andrea Shipley to compare them to criminals.”

Damages will take some effort to calculate as they will be tied to, among other things, the number of potential investors who heard the story and see it online and decide not to invest for that reason. For a start-up company that depends on investors and lenders, comments like this could be a death blow – certainly we believe they were made with that intent. These groups are allowed to make almost any claim they wish, regardless of the facts, and the media rarely question them. Someone has to hold them accountable.

Idaho law does not allow AEHI to specify its damages in the lawsuit, which says only that the damages exceed the minimum threshold to be heard in District Court. AEHI will ask for a judge or jury to determine the specific damages. The suit also asks the Snake River Alliance to immediately retract the statement and that the court order the SRA to refrain from making similar comments in the future.

Our critics might claim we are trying to stifle public debate and silence our opposition, but the truth is just the opposite. A robust public debate can only occur when all sides respect the boundary between civility and defamation. Comparing people to criminals simply because you disagree with them violates that boundary and we are giving the SRA an opportunity to do the right thing and retract their defamatory comments.

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