Tim Tebow will speak at a Christian event in Andrews County, funded by funding for a nuclear waste management facility
Tebow is a Heisman Trophy winner and former quarterback who played for the Denver Broncos in the National Football League. He is also a devout Christian, who expresses his evangelical faith and often gives religious talks to churches and student groups across the country.
The event, held on behalf of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), is open to the public and Tebow’s commitment will cost the county $60,000. Funding for his speech was recommended by the Legacy Fund Committee and approved by the Court of Andrews County Commissioners.
This isn’t the first FCA event that Tebow has speak.
The Community Legacy Fund includes money donated to the county by Waste Control Specialists (WCS), whose Andrews County facilities manage low-level nuclear waste.
Low-level nuclear waste includes items that may have been contaminated during the nuclear fission process, such as gloves or clothing.
WCS pays the county about $1,000,000 a year to operate, and as of 2020 has given more than $13.4 million to the county over a 10-year period.
The Legacy Committee uses the money to fund projects for the “public good”, according to the WCS website. Recently, the committee approved plans to build a new city park and a “Life Center” that “supports pregnant mothers and fathers.”
The event is called FCA’s Field of Faith and, according to its FCA Permian Basin webpageits goal is to “ignite a spiritual movement for God”.
The page reads: “Christianity needs a change of momentum – students who will stand together against the pressures and temptations of our world and be a generation that is committed to reading the Bible and to the ‘apply to their lives’.
The constitutionality regarding the source of funding for the event is ambiguous. The landmark Supreme Court case Lemon V. Kurtzman established that public funding cannot be used to sponsor inherently religious events. Under this precedent, the government cannot be financially involved in “essentially religious activities”.
According Constitutional Law Justia“The Establishment Clause absolutely prohibits government funded or sponsored indoctrination into the beliefs of any particular religious faith.”
The vast majority of nuclear waste management facility payments go to “public good projects” to offset the negative externalities of hosting this waste in their county.
Although the WCS facility contains only low-level nuclear waste, Andrews County State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) drafted and passed House Bill (HB) 7 last year that prevents the repository of high-level nuclear waste at the West Texas site.
High-level nuclear waste is the actual spent nuclear fuel cells created as a byproduct of nuclear fission and is highly radioactive.
Landgraf’s invoice came on the heels of an effort by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to grant an interim storage license for the construction of a high-level waste facility near the existing WCS facility.
The facility would be jointly owned by WCS and Interim Storage Partners (ISP).
He announced his bill last year, saying, “My constituents are fine with low-level stockpiling because used rubber gloves and hospital gowns are of little concern. But highly radioactive waste, such as spent nuclear fuel, is a completely different horse.
It appears that some county residents, while acceptable to retain low-level waste, believe that low-level waste should be the limit of their county’s involvement with WCS.
Andrews County resident Julie Stevenson told the court of commissioners“High level, you will die within three days. I don’t want to take that risk for my children. I’m sure you have a lot of geologists talking to you… but they look at charts, graphs, they don’t look at my 7 year old son and my 87 year old grandfather.
“We’re not afraid of the security measures that are here, that they’ve put in place,” Stevenson said. “We are afraid of what they haven’t done. They have never transported large quantities of waste in this area.
Between the religious event’s constitutionality, the sheer amount of public funding it consumes, and the somewhat controversial source of the money, the decision is a curious one for Andrews County.
The Texan has contacted Andrews County Judge Charlie Falcon for comment, but has not received a response as of press time.