As a “downwinder,” someone who was exposed to radiation fallout from U.S. nuclear testing, I was happy that the Deseret News Editorial Board took such a strong stance in support of downwinders across the West in “The steep price of America bombing its own people.” We were pleased by the Senate’s short-term extension of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. It is a first step that gives us more time to work toward the expansion and long-term extension of RECA. We have been fighting for years to strengthen and expand this program to include more people harmed by radiation exposure from nuclear weapons testing and development.

The bipartisan House bill, HR5338, co-sponsored by Reps. Owens, Stewart and Moore as well as 65 other representatives, is the right path toward that goal. The accompanying Senate bill S2798 introduced by Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, D-New Mexico, far surpasses the coverage offered by Sen. Lee’s bill. It is supported by downwinders and community members throughout the West, 18 senators from across the aisle and the country, the Western Governors Association and the Utah State Legislature, as well as the legacy of Sen. Orrin Hatch by forwarding his original efforts. 

I urge the rest of the Utah delegation to join that legislation going forward. 

Mary Dickson

Salt Lake City