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Candidates tout alternative fuels

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Why promote nuclear energy when there could be alternative fuel sources instead?

That question was broached by two of the candidates competing for a local state House of Representatives seat on Thursday night during a forum in Park City.

District 53 candidates Laura Bonham, a Democrat, and Gary Shumway, who is a member of the Libertarian Party, each briefly touched on the potential of cleaner-burning fuel in Utah during an event hosted by the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, an interest group widely known as HEAL Utah.

Bonham claimed that the U.S. could replace nuclear power within five years if it wanted to switch to the cleaner-burning fuel, sometimes called sustainable energy.

She said Utah could use what is known as geothermal fuel, which relies on the heat of the Earth, and wind-generated power instead. If she is elected, Bonham said, she would promote alternative fuels at the Statehouse.

Bonham, who lives in Coalville and owns a general-contractor business, meanwhile, indicated that entrepreneurs are developing the cleaner-burning fuels and that the Statehouse could provide tax credits to businesses that develop the fuels.

Shumway, who lives in Jeremy Ranch and is a computer programmer, agreed that the private sector could advance the issue.

They also discussed nuclear waste, with the two candidates seeming to want the waste stored where it is generated rather than being moved to dumping grounds elsewhere.

"If you’re going to generate waste, it’s your responsibility to deal with it," Shumway said, adding that the federal government should not mandate where the waste is stored.

Bonham admitted that the topic is "complicated in what to do" and said technology allows the waste to be stored where it is made.

She said she wants "very, very strong laws that we’re not going to have it."

Mel Brown, the Republican candidate in the 53rd District, attended the forum but left before the Bonham and Shumway discussion. He greeted some of the people in attendance. Brown is a former speaker of the House and lives in Coalville.

Bonham commented later that Brown is a friend of the industry but his opinion on the issue has not been publicized. Shumway agreed, saying that the Republican, who is expected to easily win on Election Day, does not have a World Wide Web site.

In a bow to his Libertarian philosophy of less government, Shumway, in a sidebar comment, said environmentalists too often side with what he described as oppressive governments and try to control people’s lives. He did not, however, provide an example of how environmentalists influence the government.

Heal Utah says that people in Summit County should be interested in nuclear-waste discussions that are more prominent in other parts of the state, including those regarding EnergySolutions, once known as Envirocare. The organization says that the issues could impact Summit County’s tourism-heavy economy.

There has been little debate about those issues so far in the 53rd District campaign, however.


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