Senate votes to lift nuclear ban
by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter
The Minnesota Senate on Feb. 2 voted to lift the ban on nuclear power plant construction in Minnesota — it has now done so under both Republican and Democratic control.
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, saw her legislation lifting the ban pass the Senate on a 50-14 vote.
“Let’s take this small step together,” said Koch of passing the bill.
The bill isn’t about making an immediate decision about building another nuclear power plant in Minnesota, Koch explained. It just puts all the energy options on the table.
But some Democrats argued the bill wasn’t needed and failed to take into account such chronic problems as a lack of nuclear waste storage.
“It’s too expensive,” said Sen. Ellen Anderson, DFL-St. Paul, of nuclear power. “And we don’t need it.”
Amendments were tried five times
Democrats tried five times to amend the legislation without success.
One amendment stipulated the Public Utilities Commission could not act favorably toward nuclear power plant construction if it found the permit applicant planned to reprocess its nuclear waste into weapon-grade plutonium.
Koch styled the amendment “a little deep in the weeds.”
At one point during a debate, Sen. Michael Jungbauer, R-East Bethel, suggested federal officials get off “their dead rear” and finally open a federal nuclear waste facility.
Koch’s bill passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote.
All area senators voted to lift the moratorium — a legacy of the Prairie Island nuclear power plant debate of the 1990s.
No Republican voted against the bill.
A nuclear power moratorium ban repeal has yet to hit the House floor.