Gosar says he's ready to fight for Downwinders
Former Kingman Mayor Les Byram (left) addresses the audience as Congressman Paul Gosar listens Friday in front of Gosar’s new downtown Kingman office.
Congressman introduces bill to compensate downwinders
3/4/2013 5:59:00 AM
By Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
KINGMAN - U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar dared President Barack Obama and Congress to shoot down his new bill designed to bring compensation to all Mohave County Downwinders.
Gosar announced the new bill, H.R. 424, Friday during an open house at his new office in Kingman. The bill would include all of Mohave County in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990.
The act compensates residents of 20 counties in Nevada, Utah and Arizona who were exposed to radioactive material from nuclear tests in Nevada during the 1950s and 1960s.
The part of Mohave County north of the Grand Canyon was included in the act but the southern half of the county was left off.
"There should be no opposition to this bill. I will belittle any opposition to this bill," Gosar said. "Every Democrat and Republican should be on this bill. I dare the president not to sign it."
"It's high time the federal government stood accountable for its mistake," said Danielle Stephens, the chairwoman of the Mohave County Downwinders.
Residents from the southern half of the county have been fighting for 20 years to get compensation. Arizona Mining Inspector Joe Hart once told the Miner that the southern half was left off because Mohave was spelled with a "j" instead of an "h," and a federal staffer thought the document referred to the Mojave Desert, not the county.
Several congressmen, including Rep. Franks and Sen. John McCain, have tried to get the southern half of the county added to the act.
"There is no reason why this should not move forward," Gosar said. "When we get a hearing. Not if, when we get a hearing, we have to be prepared."
He offered to send staff to help residents record their stories and put them before the congressional committee that would hear the bill. Gosar said his staff had made a similar video last year that helped a group of people in Coconino County reclaim part of their property after the federal government made a mistake in surveying the boundary of a national forest.
"This is not about a bunch of politicians pontificating. This is about you," he said.