Minn. House says no to new nuclear power plants

ST. PAUL, Minn. (The
> Associated Press) - Apr 30 - By MARTIGA LOHN Associated Press Writer
> A move to open Minnesota to future nuclear power plants fell
> short Thursday in the House, hurting the chances of any change this
> year.
> The vote was 72-60 against undoing a 15-year-old moratorium on
> new nuclear facilities.
> The action showed divisions within the DFL majority, with
> Democrats voting on both sides of the issue and most Republicans
> supporting the change. It came just four weeks after a surprise Senate
> vote to scrap the nuclear prohibition, a position shared by Republican
> Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
> A 1994 statute prevents the Public Utilities Commission from
> authorizing construction of new nuclear facilities. But opposition to
> nuclear energy has softened more recently as the country searches for
> clean power. Minnesota aims to get a quarter of its energy from
> renewable sources by 2025 or even sooner. The state already has two
> nuclear plants, near Monticello and Red Wing.
> "We can only do so much with renewable power," said Rep. Tim
> Faust, DFL-Hinckley.
> He added: "I hope that Minnesota never has to build a nuclear
> power plant. Never has to build another coal plant. I hope that
> conservation and renewable energy can make up the difference, but I'm
> afraid that won't happen. What happens if we can't keep up?"
> Others said more nuclear power has too many downsides.
> Rep. Bill Hilty, DFL-Finlayson, said the nuclear option would
> distract from efforts to develop renewable energy and could stick
> ratepayers with the multimillion-dollar costs of considering a new
> nuclear plant. Others questioned the safety of nuclear power and what
> to do with the spent fuel and wastewater it produces.
> "We haven't solved the issue of waste, a million-year radioactive
> toxic legacy that we'll pass on to untold generations," said Rep.
> Frank
> Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis.
> The House vote isn't the final word on the issue.
> It could still come up as a House-Senate conference committee
> works on a final energy policy bill, although the House vote shows it
> will be difficult to pass a change in the policy.
> Pawlenty has recommended repealing the moratorium, and GOP House
> members said nuclear should be part of the conversation.
> "It shouldn't be that scary," said Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers.
> "It
> should be something that we just leave as one of our options."