Opinion

Our Voice: Determined effort key for Hanford national park

Politicians often get a bad rap, especially at the national level when party gridlock makes it seem like they accomplish so little.

It’s worth noting then, when a select few work tirelessly to make something good happen. Such is the case of the combined efforts of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash. who have made the dream of establishing a national park at Hanford closer to reality than ever before.

The effort has been ongoing for years, always ending in failure. The tenacity of Hastings, Murray and Cantwell has been crucial in bringing this issue up time and again until it finally now shows hope of federal approval. The bill that includes language to establish a Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which would include B Reactor, was approved by the House last week. Much of that success is due to Hasting’s clout and perseverance in reviving the issue year after year.

Now it moves to the Senate, where it historically has been shot down. We hope Murray and Cantwell can continue the stamina they already have shown to push this legislation through. Both senators already went on a frantic rescue mission for the measure early last week when, after months of negotiating support, some Senate Republicans suddenly opposed the inclusion of land and conservation provisions in the bill. That nearly killed the park proposal, but Murray and Cantwell were determined and worked feverishly to get the necessary language back in the legislative package.

The Manhattan national park plan would preserve sites in Oak Ridge, Tenn. and Los Alamos, N.M., in addition to Hanford. Scientists and engineers at all three locations were part of the race to develop the atomic bomb during World War II, and with so few national parks devoted to science and technology, there is a real need to preserve this important contribution to history.

The proposed park would allow visitors a chance to see beyond the remnants of Hanford and appreciate the role it played in ending World War II. Detractors may not like to admit it, but the dawning of the nuclear age is a part of American history and it was crucial the United States was the country that led the way.

The battle to establish the Manhattan national park plan is far from over, and we hope Murray and Cantwell and others on our side can make the final drive in the Senate this week. If the measure can’t get through with these power players involved, chances are slim it will be approved any time soon in future.

Hastings is retiring and he has been the measure’s champion for years. Murray and Cantwell will no longer be in the majority party next year, and while they will still be senior senators, that diminishes their influence. Now is the best chance for the park’s approval.

Murray, Cantwell and Hastings have given a great effort. It is time all the energy they have put in to creating a national park at Hanford finally pays off.

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