Assembly Republicans Signal Failure of Nuclear Power With AB 346

P.O. Box 649
Luck, Wisc. 54853
Contact Nukewatch: 715-472-4185           

March 4, 2007

Assembly Republicans Signal Failure of Nuclear Power With AB 346
LUCK, Wisc. -- With a 51 to 46 party-line vote, Wisconsin State Assembly Republicans on Friday, Feb. 29, passed Assembly Bill 346 which, if enacted, would repeal 25-year-old limits on new construction of nuclear power reactors in Wisconsin.

 The bill, sponsored by Rep. Phil Montgomery, R-Green Bay, would eliminate the statutory requirement that an answer to the as-yet-unsolved nuclear waste storage question be in operation prior to any new reactor construction. The current law, adopted in 1983, also requires that new reactors be economically advantageous to consumers when compared to alternative means of electricity production.

 “We want to send a message to Wall Street that Wisconsin is open to nuclear power,” Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch said about the measure at a legislative hearing last December 18. Rep. Chuck Benedict, D-Beloit, countered that, “Wisconsin should invest in viable, cleaner renewable alternatives.”

No new reactors have been ordered in the U.S. since the 1979 reactor fuel melting and radiation venting at Three Mile Island in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

“AB 346 is an admission of failure by the nuclear industry,” said John LaForge of Nukewatch in Luck, Wisc. “It has found no answer to its waste problem, so this is the industry’s way of saying, ‘We don’t care about nuclear waste and want to generate more,’” he said. 

“Proponents of nuclear power argue that it does not produce carbon dioxide and thus does not contribute to global climate change,” wrote Professor Al Gedicks, who teaches sociology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, February 9 in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “This argument, endlessly repeated, ignores the inconvenient fact that without the mining, milling and enrichment of uranium, there is no nuclear power,” Gedicks said. “Each stage of the nuclear fuel cycle is extremely energy intensive and results in the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels,” he said.

The repeal measure was opposed by all the Assembly Democrats except for Robert Ziegelbauer of Manitowoc, who’s 25th Assembly district includes hundreds of workers at Wisconsin’s three reactors, two at Point Beach and another at Kewaunee. It was supported by 51 Republicans with two absent or abstaining.

Before becoming law, the bill must still be approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate and be signed by Governor James Doyle who has voiced skepticism about it.