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Snake River Alliance does Idaho no favors June 3, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, anti-renewable energy, economic benefits, Greenfield nuclear development, Mountain Home News, renewable energy, Snake River Alliance.
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[We submitted this opinion to the Mountain Home news last month but space constraints kept it from being published.]

Democracy gives people a lot of latitude in how to get something done, or to stop it from being done. The events over the last few weeks have been really useful in showing how we and the Snake River Alliance differ on those counts. Heat doesn’t substitute for light and even a group as prickly as the Snake River Alliance should know that a civil tone will help public discussion of important issues like energy.

Our efforts to prepare for the April 20 rezone hearing were aboveboard and successful. We launched a public information campaign to let people know about our table to collect resumes and letters of interest and around 500 showed up and wore stickers supporting AEHI. I spoke at clubs, groups, associations, business and anywhere else people would have me, and not all of these venues were friendly.

We collected 1,600 signatures through much hard work going door-to-door, going to food lines, going to workplaces, going to places the SRA wouldn’t bother going. We produced an informational video and mailed it to each household in Elmore County. We sent a letter to every resident of Hammett to address their specific concerns. We launched a traditional advertising campaign and used the new tools of social media to get the word out.

In contrast, the Snake River Alliance prepared for the rezone hearing with bizarre and unethical gimmicks. A week or so before the hearing, the SRA complained to the Glenns Ferry Police Department that I shoved SRA employee Liz Woodruff at a March 10 Glenns Ferry City Council meeting – in a room full of the public, city officials and police officers, no less! The authorities did their duty and, after interviewing me and other people, found the accusation without merit. Clearly, the SRA was fishing for an “October surprise” a week before the rezone hearing, hoping to smear my reputation and throw the meeting into disarray.

These shenanigans have no place in public policy. It probably didn’t help the SRA that Mrs. Woodruff on March 24 publicly apologized to the Glenns Ferry City Council for her childish behavior at that March 10 council meeting, where she sought to disrupt my presentation.

All this is relevant because it speaks to the SRA’s involvement in the public process. As hard as they try to keep a veneer of civility, they openly and behind-the-scenes do what they can do disrupt the local process. Apparently, they were able to restrain themselves more or less for the rezone hearing, but they and their supporters formed “groups” to get more speaking time. Then, individual members of the “groups” spoke, violating the principle the county established for recognizing groups .

Clearly, the SRA does best when surrounded by supporters and friends, but their thin-skinned nature leads them to do some strange things. For example, sometimes the SRA seems immune to common sense. To emphasize that nuclear plants are a good fit with rural areas, we showed pictures of cows grazing a stone’s throw from nuclear plants and Andrea Shipley’s response was to say “the property at issue is not grazed by cows” (actually, cows graze the only adjacent private land). As the SRA well knows, our plant would take up around 200 acres, with the remainder of the 1,300 acre parcel to remain farmland.

To say our plant would “upend surrounding ag uses” is preposterous. For the real story on how our plant would affect the area, see my open letter to the citizens of Hammett at http://www.cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com. There are plenty of photos of nuclear plants surrounded by hayfields, wildlife habitat, estuaries and near small towns (yes, we’re well aware there are no estuaries in Elmore County).

In the face of our campaign, the SRA says the jobs will never materialize – but the SRA is working as hard as it can to stop the jobs from ever materializing. We’ve already put 100 Idahoans to work and as long as investors continue to fund us, that’s their concern, not the SRA’s. They say we haven’t finalized enough details about our plant, but you know if we had every detail plotted out they’d complain we were being presumptuous. At this stage, we are simply seeking to rezone the land, yet they chide us for not having each and every aspect of our plant finalized.

Speaking of our business, Ms. Shipley breathlessly states the obvious in quoting our SEC report, which says “AEHI has limited funds and such funds will not be adequate to carry out the business plan without borrowing significant funds. The ultimate success of AEHI may depend upon its ability to raise additional capital … and it could fail.” OK, so we openly admit don’t have enough money to build a nuclear reactor and need more investment to build it. So? Utilities, developers, companies and anyone else building anything must seek investment capital as well.

Ms. Shipley is either uneducated about start-up public companies, or she is seeking to misrepresent our funding picture. We are the only publicly owned company in the nation seeking to build an independent nuclear power plant; traditional utilities, for whatever reasons, haven’t constructed enough power plants and we are stepping up to meet the demand. Like any other start-up, we seek investment for what we propose. If we get it, we may succeed, and if we don’t, we fail. Anyone who has run a business, or who is not terribly out-of-touch with business, understands that.

The Snake River Alliance’s contempt for working people is evident in its own site, as well as those of supporters. Among the drawbacks of our plant, according to the SRA’s Jan. 9 news release, would be “thousands of construction workers” in Elmore County (http://tinyurl.com/qxgnm9). I guess if someone has a problem with construction workers, that would be a concern, but to people who are willing to work hard and get something built, it’s an insult. Or, this gem from http://tinyurl.com/p43rar, refers this way to people who came to our table: “To what degree will these curbside applicants feel like darned fools?”

If this is the best the Snake River Alliance can offer, it has grossly underestimated our tenacity, the depth of our support and the necessity of our enterprise.

Ms. Shipley claimed I am “obsessed with counting stickers” but that is the closest she comes to acknowledging the truth: People at the meeting were overwhelmingly supportive of the rezone and the SRA’s vaunted community organizing efforts didn’t produce much in that regard. The best Ms. Shipley can do is to discount our efforts to create jobs and say the jobs won’t come soon enough, or at all, or they won’t be for Elmore residents – while simultaneously doing all she can to stop the jobs from ever coming. Tactically, the SRA was out-hustled, but that in itself means nothing as the ultimate measure of success lies with the Elmore County Commission.

Most valuable are the resumes of hundreds of highly qualified, hardworking Idahoans we collected and hope to call on as soon as we can. They and thousands of other supporters hope we prevail over the SRA and its newfound allies.

Anti-nukes use another two-faced approach when they say nuclear power shouldn’t be pursued because we have no place to store or reprocess the waste, but then they work against storage and reprocessing solutions. It’s worth pointing out Areva is planning for reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel in the US (http://tinyurl.com/pwfblo). The firm recently shared with bloggers its conceptual thinking about a 800 ton/year plant which it says is the answer to apparent end of the Yucca Mountain repository project.

Given the traditional antagonism between environmental groups like the SRA and agriculture, it is not surprising Ms. Shipley is out of touch with ag issues. News alert for Ms. Shipley: Farming in Idaho is largely constrained by the high cost of water, because pumping that water is becoming increasingly expensive. Irrigators currently pay close to 4 cents per kilowatt hour, but Idaho Power is asking for an 11.1 percent increase in that rate. Many farmers spend thousands of dollars a month on power costs. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, it costs 1.8 cents to produce a kilowatt-hour of electricity with nuclear power, and that power is produced more than 90 percent of the time (http://tinyurl.com/2pgc8k).

This kind of reliable low-cost power is exactly what high-lift irrigators and other farmers need to stay economically competitive. According to the American Wind Energy Association, wind costs around 5 cents per kilowatt hour (http://tinyurl.com/kyg8u) with federal subsidies – when it’s blowing, which is around 20 percent of the time on average. Ms. Shipley should know business can’t operate under those power terms; we only make it work by importing half our energy for out-of-state coal plants.

It strains belief that Ms. Shipley would claim “Idaho is not out of power … Idaho has ample electricity resources.” Perhaps she should tell that laughable claim to the two major employers who bypassed southern Idaho in 2007 because Idaho Power couldn’t provide electricity! Surely, she is just as disappointed as the rest of us about the loss of those jobs.

The fact that Idaho imports half its energy is proof enough that we need to develop our own dispatchable baseload resources in-state. It’s no secret that Idaho Power hasn’t developed a base-load power plant in Idaho in at least 30 years, choosing instead buying shares in out-of-state coal plants. I really can’t blame them; after getting a taste of the difficulty in developing a power plant, I can see why Idaho Power has evidently given up on new baseload power in Idaho.

That brings me to my next point, which is that energy developers of all kinds are facing a harder time getting anything built, and no advocacy groups are stepping forward to support them. As you read this, dozens of rural landowners want to “curb enthusiasm for” and ultimately kill plans to plant wind turbines and string a green-field power line segment across the northern Laramie Range in Wyoming (http://tinyurl.com/polydc). The Northern Laramie Range Alliance is fighting wind energy, which the Snake River Alliance points to as the future of energy generation.

Something tells me the Snake River Alliance and its allies won’t be showing up to help these wind power developers – or anyone who’s trying to build a power plant.

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"Commission praised for patience during nuke hearing" April 29, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, approval process, economic benefits, Elmore County, Energy policy, Mountain Home News, Politics and nuclear, rural nuclear, Snake River Alliance, Water policy.
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The Mountain Home News was kind enough to publish this letter today. It pretty much speaks for itself.

Commission praised for patience during nuke hearing

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dear editor:

We applaud the patience of the Elmore County Commission in dealing with a very controversial issue at last week’s hearing. Throughout the over four hours of testimony from both sides, the commissioners heard and saw plenty of information.

In our view, the hundreds of supporters who showed up to support jobs, clean low-cost energy, agriculture and economic growth carried the day. Testimony on our behalf was passionate, including former planning and zoning commissioners who supported our application. Farmers, large landowners, the local farm bureau, shopkeepers and average citizens all told the commission that Elmore County needs stable jobs and that rezoning our land would serve the best interests of Elmore County. We have also submitted 1,600 Idaho signatures in support of the rezone, half of them from Elmore County residents.

We know some 500 people showed up at various stages of the four-hour meeting to support us. We handed out 475 green “AEHI supporter” stickers to people and we counted about 400 of those stickers over the course of the evening (people showed up shortly after 4 p.m. to our table and were coming until after 7 p.m.). There were also many supporters who had to stand in the back and behind the boundary wall who requested stickers, but we had run out. By contrast, we counted fewer than 100 people wearing stickers opposing us throughout the entire evening. Also, fewer than 10 percent of the AEHI supporters spoke. In contrast, over a third of the opposition spoke, but many were from the same organization. Their organizations were given 10 minutes of speaking time, and then in violation of the rules individual members of the organization also spoke giving the misleading appearance of an equal number for and against.

We expect people to oppose us, but the opposition sometimes resorted to strange arguments. I’m sure some of you have been in the position where you tell someone something, they give you a blank stare and act as though they didn’t hear a word you just said. That’s how we often felt at last week’s public hearing on our rezone.

Opponents largely ignored information presented by AEHI staff and our supporters. We showed pictures of nuclear plants with farm fields and grazing cows just a stone’s throw from reactor buildings, to prove that nuclear plants are very compatible with surrounding ag land uses. We repeated that our plant would occupy just 200 of the 1,300 acres in the rezone, with most of the rest of the land devoted to farming. We made it clear our site won’t have any of those large cooling towers. We stated we’ve already spent $8 million and put 100 Idahoans to work on our effort. We made it clear that many acres of good land could be farmed but aren’t due to the high cost of water. We specified nuclear plants emit no smoke, dust, noise or odors and do not generate large amounts of traffic in operation. We made it clear we’d use a low-water design for our plant and rely on existing water rights, not impinging on existing water holders in any way. We made it clear jobs would start soon after the rezone and Conditional Use Permit approval and ramp up to several thousand during the construction phase.

We also clarified that most jobs at our plant won’t require a college degree, just specialized training that we can provide.

In response, people made some amazing claims, suggesting we could put a dump or tire-burning plant on the site. Another gentleman worried about terrorists using advanced radar weaponry to induce earthquakes to destroy reactors and cities. They insisted our plant would destroy their rural setting, even when the reality of nuclear plants shows they are good neighbors and take up little room. Some kept referring to the land as “their farmland” and that they wanted to farm it, so it should be kept as-is for their benefit (whatever happened to private property rights? And why has the land been sold several times as recently as 2007, but no one from Elmore County purchased it?). They also said farmland is disappearing; having grown up on a farm myself, this is a strong appeal to make. However, according to the USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture, “nearly 300,000 new farms have begun operation since the last census in 2002.” Elmore County farm statistics, obtained from the county extension office, show farms in the county also increased between 2002 and 2007, from 364 to 381. While Idaho agriculture is robust, we know farmland figures could increase substantially if our power plant is built, as many acres cannot be irrigated due to lack of low-cost power for irrigation pumps.

Most surprisingly, several opponents said the jobs won’t materialize because the plant won’t be built — then proceeded to argue against the rezone so the plant could not be built!

The Snake River Alliance is a master of these both-sides-of-the-fence arguments. On one hand, the SRA says our reactor can’t be built for a mountain of reasons — but if they really believe that, why are they spending their time opposing us? Their preoccupation with our project is unintended but welcome testimony that we are fully capable of building this plant and have an excellent shot at success, even given the current financial markets.

For someone to build a commercial nuclear plant in Idaho on their watch would pretty much verify the SRA has lost relevance and is out of touch with modern environmental thinking, even more so than the successful Areva and Idaho National Laboratory expansions demonstrate.

So, this really is about jobs: theirs (about 10) versus ours (about 5,000, with salaries much higher). It’s also stunning the Snake River Alliance would say it’s concerned about jobs and agriculture in Elmore County, when it has advocated the closure of Mountain Home Air Force Base and supported restricting water supplies to farmers to protect the Bruneau Snail. I am frankly surprised at their alliance with the Hammett-area farmers. I guess the saying “My enemy’s enemy is my friend” holds, even uniting former enemies who haven’t considered the consequences. What will these farmers do when the newly empowered SRA resumes advocacy of cutting their water rights to protect a snail or return farmland to its original “pristine condition”?

Despite all the misinformation, the people who made the loudest statement last week were our hundreds of supporters. Sadly, the SRA and opposition websites (which don’t allow comment) discount and mock the people who are eager and willing to get to work building and running a reactor.

Our opponents concern themselves with obstructing and stopping, not building and creating. No matter how this is resolved, we have made a very clear statement that Elmore County’s (and Idaho’s) baseload energy supply and economic development are pressing issues – and neither the Snake River Alliance nor their supporters have any plan to address them.

For more information on the rezone and our intentions, please go to www.alternateenergholdings.com or www.cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com.

Don Gillispie

President and CEO of Alternate Energy Holdings Inc.

Rhetorical meltdown February 21, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, anti-renewable energy, approval process, Elmore County, Energy policy, environmentalists, Idaho leadership, Mountain Home News, nuclear industry, Politics and nuclear, President Obama, Snake River Alliance, Steven Chu.
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It’s been a rough few months for the Snake River Alliance, and it shows in the shrill and over-the-top rhetoric of their news releases. I suppose it’s for the best they don’t blog and have removed from their Web site the ability for public comment.

Among the setbacks to the SRA: a pro-nuclear president and energy secretary are now in office; the SRA had to admit they were clueless when they stooped to calling us criminals; the state of Idaho has reshuffled its renewable energy priorities to better conform to reality; AREVA is moving forward with a uranium processing facility in Idaho; and the SRA has bailed on at least one public hearing to support embattled wind farm developers.

Apparently, the SRA is engaging in some fundraising by continuing its attempts to vilify us. Their latest news release, regarding our status as a fully reporting company before the SEC, is laughable to anyone with an understanding of business.

To clear up the SRA’s untruths:

• We were “four months late” filing our registration statements (on Feb. 19, we reported the SEC has accepted our registration statement, qualifying us to be a fully reporting company, conduct audits and file required financial reports for current and potential investors). This is nonsense. You can’t be late on a registration statement because there is no requirement to be fully reporting. It is a choice that public companies make to be more open.

• We didn’t disclose any lawsuits in filing our registration statement (at the time, we had a pending lawsuit against the SRA for defamation). You are only required to disclose lawsuits against your company, not lawsuits you have filed against others. Anyone who has been through this process knows that.

I failed to appear at the Legislature when invited. Very wrong. I have been invited twice to appear before an interim committee on energy (not the Legislature) and appeared both times. I testified once and the second time, the meeting ran an hour over and I had to leave to another meeting; I later emailed my remarks to the committee. The SRA knows this but conveniently forgets to mention it.

We “lost” the defamation lawsuit. After Andrea Shipley admitted she had no factual basis for calling us “scammers,” we did not object to their motion to dismiss the suit. Shipley’s critiques “generally represent the highly subjective opinions of the [speaker] rather than assertions of verifiable, objective fact,” according to the SRA court filing. Her admission that she had no factual basis for her statements is a retraction and that pleases us.

• We were late in paying a $50,000 bill to Owyhee County. We had originally proposed to build our plant in Owyhee County and the filing fee was $1,000 and we offered to pay $50,000 because of the exceptional nature of our application. We asked Owyhee County for a written bill, which we need for accountability purposes. The Mountain Home News on Oct. 8 quoted Commissioner Dick Freund: “Once notified in writing, they paid up almost immediately.”

We invite the SRA to be as open as we are and post a link to their financial statements – heck, maybe even start blogging, allow public comment and join the rest of us. The SRA’s distortions of facts and fulminations don’t substitute for a discussion of Idaho’s or America’s energy future.

Snake River Alliance backs out of defamatory statements January 27, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, environmentalists, Snake River Alliance.
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The Snake River Alliance has retracted a statement calling my company “scammers,” with the Alliance saying their statement wasn’t “factual” but merely their opinion.

On Aug. 11, 2008, Snake River Alliance Executive Director Andrea Shipley appeared on a television news broadcast and claimed AEHI representatives were criminals, calling the company “scammers.” AEHI sued the SRA for defamation, as no one in the company has been accused of charged with any criminal behavior. In response, the Alliance filed a motion to dismiss the defamation suit, instead saying their statements were offered as opinion, not fact, and were therefore protected under the First Amendment. In light of the SRA’s admission that their statements were not factual, we did not oppose the dismissal.

In their dismissal, the SRA admitted their statements were not factual, but just their opinion, which they could have done long ago. The SRA is known for over-the-top rhetoric and they came very, very close to crossing the line between protected speech and defamation; only by later retracting the factualness of their statement did they stay within the law and they now should think twice about the words they use.

Idaho Statesman publishes our response December 24, 2008

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, economic benefits, Elmore County, Energy policy, Greenfield nuclear development, Idaho Statesman, nuclear industry, Politics and nuclear, reactor types, reprocessing, rural nuclear, Snake River Alliance, Water policy.
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For the past 30 years, the nuclear industry has kept a low profile, producing more energy with fewer reactors and with the best safety record imaginable. The industry is now making an effort to better publicize itself and that includes responding to misinformation.

The Idaho Statesman was kind enough to print this response to a recent Sierra Club column. You can see the online version at The Statesman’s site as well as the ensuing discussion.

Jennie Ransom: Nuclear power is very much a part of our green energy future

READER’S VIEW: ENERGY
Edition Date: 12/23/08

jennifer-ransomJessica Ruehrwein’s Nov. 12 Reader’s View repeats many of the same myths about nuclear power and we must present the truth. (While we disagree with Ruehrwein, her tone is a welcome change from the trademark incivility of the Snake River Alliance.)

Anti-nuclear activists are becoming increasingly isolated. Indeed, Scott Howson, one of Ruehrwein’s colleagues and chairman of the Rappahannock Group of the Sierra Club, said, “I see a solution ultimately in nuclear energy. It’s non-polluting, and that’s what we’re all looking for.”

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Wildlife Habitat Council, African-American Environmentalist Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Environmental Defense are also willing to consider nuclear as part of a solution to global warming. In this past election, both Barack Obama and John McCain supported nuclear, as did all Idaho Republican and Democrat congressional candidates. A record 74 percent of Americans favor nuclear energy, according to a September 2008 Bisconti survey.

Like many people, I used to be opposed to nuclear power, until I did my homework. There is no other source of carbon-free power that can provide the reliable, low-cost energy our nation needs to remain secure and prosperous.

Alternate Energy Holdings is proposing the Idaho Energy Complex (www.idahoenergycomplex.com), the first base-load power plant in Idaho in 30 years. In contrast to first-generation reactors that need 30 million gallons of water daily, we’ll consume as few as 100,000, thanks to a hybrid cooling design. Water will move through the facility for cooling and go to farmers, a biofuels facility and greenhouses. Our opponents know this, yet they continue repeating misinformation (see our blog at cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com).

It is true nuclear plants have high capital costs. The trade-off is that nuclear fuel is very inexpensive. A pound of uranium sells for about $45, yet a fuel pellet the size of your fingertip produces as much energy as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas or 1,780 pounds of coal.

Despite the supportive rhetoric, environmentalists routinely oppose wind farms because of their potential to decimate bird and bat populations and the large amounts of land they consume. In contrast, nuclear plants take up relatively little land, fit both urban and rural areas and the land around them typically becomes habitat. Ruehrwein also omits mention of the subsidies that all forms of energy require, including renewables.

The spent fuel from American reactors over the past 50 years could cover a football field about 15 feet deep. That’s not much when you consider nuclear provides 20 percent of our nation’s energy and 80 percent of its carbon-free energy. All this spent fuel can be reprocessed into more fuel, as in other countries, but we don’t reprocess because of environmentalist opposition.

Our opponents conveniently forget to mention the merchant wind farms and geothermal producers that are already exporting Idaho power. They join the merchant farmers, food processors and computer chip makers who bring money and provide jobs in Idaho. The IEC would generate more energy than we could consume in the current market and help capture some of the $2 billion that Idahoans send out of state for power annually.

Oddly, critics seem to have no problem with merchant renewables. And neither do we. In truth, we have much in common with opponents in our support of renewable energy. However, we – and most Americans and political leaders – know national economic and security interests demand a mainstream, inclusive approach that recognizes renewable, nuclear, natural gas and other clean and low-carbon approaches.

Given nuclear power’s contributions and stellar safety record, we believe it is extremist and closed-minded to exclude any form of energy from our nation’s future.

Jennie Ransom is vice-president of administration of Alternate Energy Holdings Inc.

Dealing with a distraction October 17, 2008

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in Elmore County, Politics and nuclear.
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Building a nuclear power plant – or just about anything else – is controversial. If you’ve ever tried to develop something out of nothing, you can expect a high level of opposition and even attempts to disrupt your operations.

That phenomenon was on full display June 16, at a public meeting we held in Glenns Ferry Opera Theater. Unfortunately, some people in the audience chose to create a distraction and disruption at the meeting. As a result, an anti-nuclear activist was arrested for trespassing at the behest of the Theater owner and a former consultant of ours also charged the activist with battery.

I have been called to testify in the trial, which is another unwelcome distraction to our goal of building a nuclear plant. We have asked our former consultant to drop the charges in the matter but it is moving forward regardless. The arrest of the activist resulted in a number of audience members shouting angrily at me saying “kill him” and “take him out,”  claiming I was behind this.  Meanwhile, I was in the middle of a PowerPoint presentation and I had absolutely no idea of what was going on.  Our meeting proceeded after order was  somewhat restored, but civility was lost.  In 40 years in this business, I have never received death threats during a presentation.

Truth be told, I was short with with some members of the audience after the threats because I thought the questioners were anti-nukes seeking to start an argument since that was the style used by many that night. For those who were there to seek legitimate answers to concerns, I certainly apologize for being short with them.  However, the disruption that occurred between the activist, former consultant and theater owner is between them exclusively. I wish them all well in working it out – our goal of building a nuclear plant must proceed.

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.