Here are some editorials from newspapers around the state:
From the July 25 Riverton Ranger
Watching live coverage and after-the-fact excerpts from former special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony Wednesday before congressional committees, it was easy to get the feeling that he wasn't giving either The Republicans or Democrats what they were hoping for.
The Democrats who want to roast Donald Trump on a spit hoped Mueller would say something to the effect of "This man is a scandalous, corrupt criminal and if arcane legal technicalities prevent his prosecution while in office, then he ought to be impeached, convicted, removed from the presidency -- and prosecuted as a felon immediately after that."
What Republicans determined to protect Trump wanted was for Mueller to say "We investigated this for three years, and it turns out the president was right. This was nothing but a witch hunt, it never should have been done, I apologize for leading it, and I am now going to join the priesthood so that I may devote my remaining years to penance while watching Trump's face being added to Mt. Rushmore."
Mueller didn't deliver on either extreme. That's just not who he is. He is a pragmatist, not an extremist.
Further, he truly does seem dedicated to his conviction that investigating the Trump scandals as a government-appointed special counsel neither authorized nor entitled him to prosecute the President of the United States. An important distinction can be made between an appointed special counsel, as Mueller was, and appointed special prosecutor, as Kenneth Starr was during the Clinton administration and as Leon Jaworski in Archibald Cox were during the Nixon crisis. Mueller simply didn't think he was supposed to reach a recommendation. He believes he was supposed to gather and submit evidence for others to act upon.
That is a nagging distinction for Democrats who would like to impeach Trump with Mueller as their prosecutorial inspiration. It has been somewhat more convenient for Republicans, but they, too, wish that Mueller - who, after all, is a Republican - would explain his decision not to recommend legal action against Trump in a way that sounded less like a law-school lesson and more like a clear, ringing determination of innocence.
Striking on Wednesday was Mueller's physical decline. He is nearly 75 years old and coming off a grueling three-year investigative chore. Those who remember him as the director of the FBI when he testified dozens of times before Congress recall a much more authoritative and imposing figure than the hoarse-voiced, often halting man we saw Wednesday.
None of that ought to matter very much, of course. Mueller said all along that he didn't want to be there. He's not running for office or auditioning for a talk-show gig. The facts of his investigation don't change because he has bags under his eyes or sounds as if he has a sore throat.
But amid the high-level theatrics that constitute so much of modern politics, he did come across as a pale costar to the many dapper, perfectly-scripted, well-rehearsed, high-drama members of Congress who interrogated him -- every single one of whom, remember, is running for re-election.
If the findings against Trump had been discovered about Barack Obama, the immediate past president probably would have resigned by now. Certainly impeachment proceedings would have begun, and he would fear for his survival in office. Not so with Trump, who claimed again on Wednesday that Mueller's testimony had exonerated him completely (Mueller said specifically that his probe did no such thing).
Even those who oppose Trump must marvel at the political power he commands amid circumstances that long since would have demolished any other elected official. Some Americans might have presumed Robert Mueller's congressional testimony would change that equation. Every indication is that they were wrong.
We are a nation that creates, seeks, embraces, and celebrates blockbusters. Robert S. Mueller III is not a blockbuster kind of person. Wednesday's hearings not only didn't change that, they reaffirmed it.
Be transparent about nuclear waste facility
From the July 25 Powell Tribune
The Joint Minerals Business and Economic Committee received approval and funding this month to study the possibility of constructing a facility in Wyoming for the temporary storage of spent nuclear rods. The facility could generate as much as $1 billion for the state, which is more than it currently collects from federal and state taxes on coal production. With mines closing, this is an idea worth exploring.
Unfortunately, the Legislature’s Management Council, which voted 7 to 6 in favor of the study, did so in an unannounced email vote.
Sen. Jim Anderson of Casper, who is co-chairman of the committee, told WyoFile that a similar proposal about 15 years ago was met with extensive opposition from environmental groups. This may explain why the vote was carried out in secret; when it comes to nuclear energy and the waste it produces, reactions are often unreasonable and highly misinformed. However, secret votes are only going to fuel suspicion and undermine public trust, while granting the opposition a lot more legitimacy. And the fact is that all of us — including the people who will likely fight the idea tooth and nail — have a right to know what our government is doing.
When people think of nuclear waste, they think of high-profile nuclear accidents, such as Chernobyl. The Chernobyl incident is a fine example of what happens when you combine socialism and nuclear power. Compare that to the 1979 Three Mile Island incident in the United States, which resulted in no deaths or significant release of radiation.
As is human nature, the 98 nuclear power plants that operate every year in the United States, providing about 20 percent of the nation’s electricity without any accidents like Chernobyl, will do far less to inform people’s understanding of nuclear energy than a few isolated incidents over decades.
Altogether, nuclear energy causes fewer deaths than natural gas and coal, which kills five times as many people as nuclear, if you include estimated deaths from pollution.
Nuclear energy does produce a highly dangerous waste that remains toxic and radioactive for a very long time, but it is a very small amount of waste. If a person were to get all of their energy from nuclear power throughout their life, the total volume of waste produced could fit inside one single soda can. As for high-level waste — the same kind to be stored at a potential Wyoming facility — the total amount from all nuclear power plants in the United States produced in the past 50 years would fit on a single football field 30 feet high.
All this nuclear waste over all these decades has been stored, in enclosed, steel-lined concrete pools filled with water or in concrete containers reinforced with steel, at sites around the country without any major releases of contamination. The track record of safety is enormously well documented. There are also technologies being developed that may safely make use of that waste.
Opponents will work from the argument that since we can’t prove the site will be 100 percent safe and without any possibility of risk — a standard impossible to achieve — then it is too dangerous to have. Any theoretical harm is, to them, an argument against the facility. If we held all industries to this standard, we’d have to go back to the Stone Age.
But should this proposal move forward, legislators need to make the process fully transparent. It will deprive an unreasonable opposition of one more piece of ammunition to kill something that may be a good thing for the state of Wyoming, at a time we sorely need a new industry.