Lisa Murkowski Doesn’t Like The Way Trump Is Compensating An Island The US Nuked Nearly Two Dozen Times

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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A GOP senator wants to change how President Donald Trump’s administration is managing a trust fund set aside for displaced islanders after the U.S. dropped 23 nukes on their homes in the mid 1900s.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has introduced a bill that would reverse an Interior Department action giving the ancestors of the Bikini Atoll islanders full access to a trust fund set up to help rebuild the atoll. The committee held a hearing Tuesday to discuss the bill.

The U.S. relocated 167 people living on the Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific to use their islands to test nuclear bombs. The U.S. detonated 23 bombs on the islands in the 1940s and 1950s, leaving them wrecked and soaked in radiation for decades. Congress created the Resettlement Trust Fund in 1982 to help Bikinians and their ancestors restore the islands, The Washington Post reported.

The fund was set up with $110 million. It hit a high of $129 million by 2000, before shrinking to $67 million by September 2017.

Department of the Interior (DOI) Assistant Secretary Doug Domenech authorized the mayor and council of the Kili-Bikini-Ejit (KBE) local government full authority over the use of the funds in November.

“I am very sensitive to the notion that Washington, D.C., should not dictate local decisions,” Murkowski said at Tuesday’s hearing. “But I’m also mindful that the trust fund was established for the people of Bikini, with its statutory purpose being the rehabilitation and resettlement of Bikini Atoll.”

“While annual drawdowns from the trust fund have historically ranged from $5-$10 million, over $15.7 million have already been withdrawn in FY2018,” Murkowski added, also pointing out that about $11 million was drained from the fund right after Domenech’s action.

The fund is currently around $57 million in market value.

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Mayor of the KBE Local Council Anderson Jibas testified in favor of Domenech’s decision. Anderson said the attorneys Bikini officials were forced to go through to access the DOI and their trust fund were “condescending” and unreliable. He said the setup was “colonialist.”

“Madame chair, we may look like simple folk whose recent ancestors were moved from Bikini to allow 23 thermonuclear blasts to poison all our islands and to vaporize three of our islands, but we simple folk have become more sophisticated and we know best what our people need,” Jibas addressed Murkowski directly.

The $11 million Murkowski brought up has not disappeared or been wasted, Jibas said. It is in a secure bank account and doled out on council approved projects, such as hiring investors to grow the fund and rebuilding weathered homes and infrastructure.

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