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News Specialist John Daley reportingA major victory is landed today for the company that wants to dump more dangerous forms of radioactive waste in Utah's West Desert.
Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled House gutted a bill that would have banned hotter levels of nuclear waste -- the so-called "B" and "C" waste.
Recent polls show a strong majority of Utahns oppose hotter forms nuclear waste being disposed of here.
The bill's sponsor, Kory Holdaway, thought he had the votes to pass his bill that would have banned class "B" and "C" waste from being dumped in Utah.
Holdaway argues the waste would be hazardous for 500 years.
The Tooele County company Envirocare wants to eventually take the waste that comes largely from dismantled nuclear plants. The company says it can be shipped and stored safely.
Envirocare has deep pockets and deep connections on Capitol Hill, where it employs one of Utah's most powerful lobbying efforts.
Today those efforts appeared to pay off, with some House lawmakers offering amendments that would entirely water down Holdaway's bill and send the issue off for more study.
During the floor debate, Sheryl Allen of Bountiful read a letter from a constituent accusing her of being a pawn to Envirocare.
"This is not about being anybody's pawn. It's about giving a task force time to consider a very important policy," Allen says.
After about 90 minutes of debate, the bill was changed to remove the ban on "B" and "C" waste and instead study the issue.
That vote total: 44 to 29.
The bill was then put on hold before a final vote.
Holdaway says allowing the waste to come here will spell trouble, including to the state's efforts to lure economic development.
"I don't think they're going to be lining up saying, 'let's go into Utah,' if they are the radioactive dumping ground of the nation. We are there," Holdaway says.
House Speaker Marty Stephens, who may run for governor, did not speak about the measure, though he did vote with the bill's sponsors.
Holdaway says he'll try to resurrect the bill and bring it back to the floor for more debate.