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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- State Sen. Curt Bramble has formally apologized to nuclear waste activists for what he called an off-the-cuff remark not intended to offend anyone.
In a letter to the Healthy Environmental Alliance of Utah, the Provo Republican apologized for saying that the group's acronym, HEAL, stood for "Help Educate Anal Liberals."
"Many of you have expressed concern about my recent public comments regarding your organization," Bramble wrote in a letter dated Monday. "I apologize.
"Those of you who have scrutinized the issue know the context in which my remarks were given, and that no harm was intended," he wrote.
The comments were made at a rally March 5 supporting radioactive-waste landfill operator Envirocare. Bramble co-chairs the Legislature's Hazardous Waste Regulation and Tax Policy Task Force.
The task force is scheduled to make recommendations to the Legislature next year whether Envirocare should be allowed to accept hotter radioactive wastes than their current state and federal licenses allow.
HEAL activists had called for Bramble's resignation, expressing concern he could not remain neutral, but Senate President Al Mansell told the group Bramble would apologize instead.
In Monday's letter, Bramble promised the group he would act fairly.
"We will all continue our painstaking work to understand and find solutions to complicated hazardous waste problems in Utah," he wrote. "We may even continue to disagree on certain details. However, the committee processes will be fair and I will honor my responsibility to act impartially as chair of the Hazardous Waste Task Force."
HEAL Director Jason Groenwold said he was not sure what to make of the apology.
"Time will tell how sincere Senator Bramble really is," he said. "It does nothing to resolve his bias toward Envirocare."
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)