Today the GOP-led Minnesota State Senate voted overwhelmingly, 50-14 to lift an automatic ban on nuclear energy in Minnesota. That’s enough to override a veto if DFL Governor Mark Dayton opposes the legislation. Dayton would presumably need six fellow Democrats to return to his side of the aisle if he wants to keep Minnesota’s nuclear moratorium in place.“This bill will offer certainty for businesses and job creators as they plan for growth and to keep existing jobs,” said Senator Majority Leader Amy Koch, the chief architecture of the legislation. “It is time to allow clean, affordable and reliable new nuclear power plants to be considered when we look at how Minnesota’s future energy needs will be met. To be clear: Deciding to repeal the prohibition is not a directive to construct a new nuclear power plant in Minnesota. Lifting the ban would, however, allow our electricity providers and our utilities commission to consider all options.”
As Koch reiterated throughout the proceedings today, the Public Utilities Commission would ultimately need to approve the nuclear option if Minnesota were to include it as part of the state’s energy policy.
Steve Morse, Executive Director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership expressed his disappointment at the news: “The Minnesota Senate’s vote today to lift the restrictions on new nuclear plants is a disappointing step backwards for Minnesota. Construction of new nuclear power plants is extremely expensive and time consuming, and will not create jobs for 15 to 20 years. Plus, the problem of permanent nuclear waste storage has not been resolved. This is not what Minnesotans want. In a November 2010 poll conducted by a national bipartisan polling team, a majority of voters said they support the existing law that prohibits new nuclear power plants.”