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Nukes bill melts down in Kentucky Senate

March 22, 2010

We’ve previously weighed in in favor of a bill sponsored by Sen. Bob Leeper that would lift a moratorium on nuclear power plant construction in Kentucky.

The law was passed in the wake of high-profile nuclear accidents in the 1970s and 1980s, and prohibits any nuclear power plants from being built in the state until the a long-term storage facility for nuclear waste has been constructed. With federal funding pulled for the Yucca Mountain project, which promised to provide that storage, after the country had invested billions, such long-term storage remains out of reach for now.

Senate Bill 26 would have allowed for such plants to be considered if they provided for the long-term storage, and not disposal, of nuclear waste, which Leeper argued would have at least allowed Kentucky to participate in the discussion about the future of nuclear energy in the country.

But the Associated Press is reporting today that Leeper’s bill, which was passed by the Senate early in this year’s session, will fail again this year.

From the AP’s Roger Alford

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Legislation that would lift Kentucky’s ban on construction of nuclear plants has melted down in the House after easily passing the Senate nearly two months ago.

Democratic state Rep. Rick Rand, chairman of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, where the bill has been sitting idle since January, said Monday he doesn’t expect it to be called for a vote in the current legislative session.

“There is opposition to it,” Rand said. “Many members have expressed concern about the nuclear issue. Not just members, but also people who have environmental concerns.”

I’d be surprised if Leeper didn’t bring the legislation again next year, and the debate will begin again. And it’s a debate worth having – while nuclear energy might not be a viable solution for this country or this state, keeping this moratorium in place excludes Kentucky from even considering the idea.

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