Minnesota GOP hoping to lift 17-year ban on nuclear power plants
ST. PAUL In one of their first legislative initiatives, Republicans will begin pushing this week to lift a longtime ban on new nuclear power plant projects in Minnesota. Bills to end the 17-year ban will be introduced today in the House and Senat...
In one of their first legislative initiatives, Republicans will begin pushing this week to lift a longtime ban on new nuclear power plant projects in Minnesota.
Bills to end the 17-year ban will be introduced today in the House and Senate, with a House committee scheduled to vote on the proposal Tuesday. The chief sponsors will be state Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo.
With new Republican majorities in both bodies, the legislation is expected to pass easily. Then its fate would be up to Gov. Mark Dayton, who has opposed the effort because there's still no plan to deal with the highly radioactive nuclear waste generated at those plants.
The issue has popped up in recent sessions with mixed success. Different versions have found favor, but nothing has gotten through the Legislature.
Both parties agree it would take years for a new plant to be approved and built. But they differ on the impact of the legislation and the need.
Republicans contend the ban, put in place in 1994 as part of a package allowing dry-cask nuclear-waste storage, must be lifted to allow serious planning to begin. Many Democrats say utilities can do that now; they just can't act on it.
Xcel Energy, which owns the Prairie Island and Monticello nuclear plants, has said it has no plans for another nuclear plant.
Republicans contend there's a greater need for the added baseload electrical generation capacity than Democrats will concede.
Democrats also have argued that ratepayers should be protected from immediate construction costs and overruns.
"I'm really concerned about our energy needs in the future," Peppin said.
Democrats said they're surprised Republicans are putting such an emphasis on lifting the ban.
"I'm surprised that with the huge challenges that we are facing ... that that is one of the priorities they are pursuing as one of their top issues," said Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, the House minority leader.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.