Public Hearing Thursday: Feds Seeking “Consensus” Process to Site Nuclear Waste

We had a strong response to our July 15 blog: Media Disappoints in Covering Prairie Island’s Nuclear Waste Challenge. One reader pointed out that the Department of Energy is hosting a public hearing tomorrow, Thursday, July 21, to improve the way the government makes nuclear waste siting decisions.

Here, with minor edits, are the details from John Kotek, Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, U.S. Department of Energy:

On Thursday, July 21st, the Department of Energy will host a public meeting in Minneapolis on designing a consent-based process to site facilities needed to manage our nation’s nuclear waste. The Department is seeking diverse viewpoints to strengthen the design of its consent-based siting process.

The meeting will be held at the Hilton Minneapolis, 1001 Marquette Ave. S., from 5:00  – 9:30 p.m. Registration is encouraged in order to assist planning. To register, please visit this registration page. Those unable to attend in person can view the meeting online through a live webcast.

The Department of Energy wants to hear from people about:

  • fairness
  • models and experience to draw from
  • the roles of communities, states, Tribal Nations, and others in consent-based siting
  • information and resources needed to achieve informed consent
  • other perspectives and values the Department should consider

Ultimately, based on your input, the Department will design a proposed process for developing a site, which will in turn serve as a framework for collaborating with potential host communities in the future.

For more information, here is a Siting Process Meeting Flyer and the Agenda. For more, visit


Media Disappoints in Covering Prairie Island’s Nuclear Waste Challenge

Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant (Wikimedia Commons)
Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant (Wikimedia Commons)

Recent news coverage on the Prairie Island Indian Community offers a great example of how mainstream thinking rushes to equate Native Americans with casinos while downplaying the history of injustice towards Native Americans and their ongoing plight.

Prairie Island recently announced it bought 112 acres of land near St. Paul, in West Lakeland Township. News coverage highlighted speculation that Prairie Island might build a casino there. It’s only lower down in the stories that readers learn that Prairie Island has a tiny and threatened land base. The community is buying new land because it might need to move to safer ground.

People have strong opinions about gambling. The casino rumors provide an emotional trigger for many readers. Getting less priority in the stories (again) is the Native American perspective. Prairie Island residents are worried about flooding and the stockpile of nuclear waste stored right next door. Those issues would be scary issues for anybody.

If the nuclear waste were stored in prominent neighborhoods of St. Cloud, Duluth, or Minneapolis, and people were increasingly nervous and angry about the lack of a long-term solution, that would be the headline. Because a small number of Native people are affected, and because they have no political power, their plight appears to be less newsworthy than a hypothetical casino.

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