There seems to be a consistent effort of the Colorado media to support confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States. I admit I’ve been impressed by what I’ve read and seen about his intelligence and demeanor. I can’t help but be impressed by a man who says things such as “Gosh” and “Golly.” However, I must register a significant concern. Gorsuch was a key to the 10th Circuit issuing a legal decision that will result in significant compensation to landowners near the Rocky Flats Plant (and their attorneys).
The case is very complicated, and I’ll do my best to summarize. (I’ll warn that the discussion to follow is a very simplistic summary of an incredibly complicated story.) A jury decided to award multi-millions in compensation was due to landowners near Rocky Flats, but that decision was overturned by the 10th Circuit Court. The ruling was overturned because it was determined that there was no proof of damage from the operations of Rocky Flats, to include reduction of property values. Effectively, it was ruled that perception of damage was insufficient to award damages.
Enter Gorsuch, and my concern about the Judge’s qualifications. The original ruling was vacated. The new ruling mentions that Dow and Rockwell managed the Plant under contracts with the federal government. “But everything ground to a halt in 1989. That’s when FBI agents raided the plant and unearthed evidence of environmental crimes. It turns out plant workers had mishandled radioactive waste for years. Some had been poured into the ground and leached into nearby bodies of water. Some had been released into the air and filtered its way into the soil throughout the area. As news of all this emerged, the plant’s neighbors saw their property values plummet.”
I published a book a few years back titled “An Insider’s View of Rocky Flats: Urban Myths Debunked.” Its obvious Judge Gorsuch hasn’t read the book, because it, as suggested by the title, debunks many of the urban myths that are repeated in the Gorsuch summary. I’m going to refer to the book and will provide specific page numbers to respond to several salient points. The FBI did not unearth evidence of environmental crimes. Items listed in the eventual plea bargain had been reported to the public and regulators before the infamous raid of the plant. A key member of the team that investigated Rocky Flats told the Wolpe Congressional Committee, “Virtually none of the allegations contained in the search warrant were borne out by full investigation” (page 82 of my book).
On the issue of offsite contamination from the plant, the Wolpe report adds that in retrospect that the investigation found that the issues should have been resolved civilly and not criminally. It is explained “That is primarily because of the marginal evidence of criminal intentional misconduct and the lack of any significant environmental harm” (also on page 82). Not convinced? The Judge in the United States District Court Sentencing of the resulting plea bargain forced by the Justice Department commented “. . .the environmental harm caused by the charged violations was generally limited to inside the plant’s boundaries” (page 89).
The Grand Jury investigating Rocky Flats operations charged that the plant had engaged in activities “. . .which violate(s) Federal environmental laws.” This may have been the source of the Gorsuch comment about “. . .evidence of environmental crimes.” Gorsuch et al apparently were unaware that the U.S. Justice Department responded that the Grand Jury had been repeatedly told that the charges “. . .are not crimes and are covered by various orders and regulatory agreements” (page 93)
So what? Gorsuch et al issued a legal decision that results in $375 million dollars of taxpayer money being awarded. The contractors were indemnified and the Department of Energy will have to cover the costs. The award (forty percent of which will be paid to the plaintiffs lawyers) will be based on the fact that Rocky Flats was a “nuisance” and not because there was any environmental damage or reduction in property values.
I’m going to make a sales pitch. My book “An Insider’s View of Rocky Flats: Urban Myths Debunked” is available at Amazon, and it contains many more details than what are in this summary. (The online version is only $3.99, and that version includes several pictures to include burning plutonium and two different plutonium ingots.) I don’t profit from royalties, so I offer this information without a benefit for myself. I’ll also comment that a second book is currently in editing, and that book will present a detailed justification for why the Rocky Flats Plant was crucial to preventing World War III through implementing the policy of Nuclear Deterrence. Rocky Flats being a “nuisance” seems to be a trivial price to pay for such a momentous outcome?
Should Gorsuch be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court? I hope, if he is, that he is more careful to base his decisions on facts and not urban myths that have been inculcated into popular acceptance!