The Minnesota Senate voted today to end a long-standing ban on new nuclear plants, but there still will be debate on the issue in the House and with Gov. Mark Dayton.
The Senate vote was 50-14, with some DFLers in favor.
The Senate had voted to lift the ban in 2009, but it didn’t pass the House that year. Last year, the then-DFL-dominated House passed a version with many clauses opposed by Republicans.
Republicans are now in charge, and one moratorium bill has already passed one House committee. Dayton will have to weigh in.
The Star Tribune quoted Dayton today saying he has some minimum requirements for the bill: no impact on ratepayers, no net increase on nuclear waste and have “no weapons grade or near weapons grade plutonium” generated from any new reactors:
“Those would be the three requirements I would have to consider it,” Dayton said. “My opposition is based on the fact that there is no national storage site (for waste) … There’s no free lunch when it comes to energy production.”
He said the waste issue is primary — right now there is no site to put any additional waste produced. The Senate bill passed on Wednesday instructs the Public Utilities Commission to study and make recommendations regarding nuclear waste.
“If that could be resolved at some point in the future then it seems to me that it changes the consideration,” Dayton said. “If there isn’t a national resolution to the waste disposal, I would not personally support an additional nuclear plant.”
The Senate vote was decried by the Clean Water Action environmental group:
“This is a troubling signal that our state leaders in the Senate are committed to pursuing energy sources which are expensive and produce toxic waste rather than clean and locally-grown renewable energy,” said Deanna White, State Director of Clean Water Action.
The Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry group, applauded the vote:
“Today’s action in the Minnesota Senate represents an important political consensus of the merits of broadening the clean energy options for Minnesotans going forward,” said Marshall Cohen, senior director for state and local government affairs for the group. “Repealing a moratorium in Minnesota or elsewhere does not represent a commitment to building new nuclear energy facilities. But it is an important recognition that a broad portfolio of clean generating technologies is in any state’s best interests.”