Viewing 1988 as a good year for Idaho, Gov. Cecil Andrus believes the state's top two accomplishments of the past 12 months were the halt to radioactive waste storage in eastern Idaho and the broad-based agreement on a water-quality preservation plan.
"We got the attention of federal authorities" with the ban on further waste storage at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, the governor said as the year drew to a close and with it the first half of his latest four-year term as chief executive."Our purpose now is to be certain existing wastes are disposed of properly before more wastes are produced," Andrus said.
The Oct. 19 ban drew national attention, and it was voted the top story of 1988 by Idaho's newspaper editors and broadcast news directors.
The federal government has honored it, but last month in Salt Lake City Energy Department officials began laying the groundwork to convince Andrus it should be lifted.
The governor has indicated a willingness to cooperate, but he is still demanding concrete evidence from the government that it will open a permanent waste storage facility in New Mexico and begin removing the 4 million cubic feet of radioactive waste now stored above and below ground at INEL.
Andrus is now waiting to hear more on the Energy Department's plans sometime in January.
As for the water-quality agreement, Andrus called it a solution to a serious problem that would have otherwise created controversy within the state for years to come.
The agreement last summer came after Andrus vetoed a bill that had passed the Legislature with bipartisan support because he believed it was too heavily weighted in favor of industry.
But the state's robust economy was also in the governor's mind as a year of explosive growth came to an end.
The cornerstone industries of timber, mining and agriculture were growing stronger throughout the year, he said, while the number of workers on the job throughout the state hit record levels.
Tourism is on the rise, and high-tech industries continue to expand, Andrus pointed out, while the state heightened export prospects with the opening of trade offices in the Pacific Rim.
"All in all, 1988 was a year of great accomplishment in Idaho," Andrus said. "Certainly we have much more to do, but building on the success of this year allows us to look ahead to 1989 with confidence and optimism."