Local column: The future of the INL

The Trump administration was strongly supported by Idahoans, but did they clearly didn’t consider the consequences for our state’s economy, writes Marc Weinpel.

We have a new administration strongly supported by the citizens of Idaho and duly elected by the Electoral College.

Often, it may be that sometimes you regret what you wish for. I am hoping that feeling does not pervade the people of southeastern Idaho with reference to plans for our National Laboratory.

Not only does Rick Perry know little of what is done here, he once expressed a desire to eliminate the Department of Energy (if he remembers its name). Perry has since said he changed his mind.

It is reported that President Trump is being guided by leaders of the Heritage Foundation. Their vision for the future, from their website, includes: “Eliminate Spending for Research, Development, and Commercialization in the Energy Sector. ….the President should also appoint an undersecretary for the sole purpose of phasing out the offices of Fossil Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Electricity Deliverability and Reliable Energy, and Nuclear Energy. None of the spending activities within these programs is a legitimate function of the federal government. Eliminating these offices will send a strong message that the government does not need to intervene in energy markets, whether it is for conventional fuels or renewable ones.”

So where might we, in this part of the state, be headed?

We have Representative Labrador — not a huge fan of the site — and two senators who believe that whatever Trump proposes is a panacea for our future and, in addition, are huge supporters of the Heritage Foundation.

Is there any vision by others for the future of the INL? Or are we just going to watch and follow what could be the end of nuclear research in Idaho by Rick Perry and President Trump?

As reported by The Hill last week, “major cuts to the Energy Department would reduce nuclear physics and scientific computing research funding to 2008 levels,” which prompted Senator Angus King, I-Maine, during Perry’s confirmation hearing to observe, “This is absolutely nuts in terms of the future of energy in this country.”

It appears that we are heading for something I really don’t think we wished for, but should have expected, right here in River City.


Weinpel is a sole practitioner at Weinpel Law, P.C. in Idaho Falls. Interests include reading, music and chasing golfballs.