Kentucky committee passes nuclear bill

14 January 2010

A Kentucky Senator is making a further attempt to get a moratorium on the construction of nuclear power plants lifted within the coal-rich US state.



Flag - Kentucky
The state flag of Kentucky. Currently its population of 4.3 million gets some 90% of its power from coal. It has one third of the USA's coal mines and is responsible for 10% of the country's production.

Since 1984 Kentucky legislation has said nuclear power plants could not be constructed until the federal government determines how to safely dispose of high-level radioactive waste. Now, the Natural Resources and Energy Committee of the state Senate has approved a bill introduced by Leeper that could lead to the ban being dropped.


Kentucky Senator Bob Leeper, who has been campaigning for three years to have the nuclear energy moratorium lifted, told the committee members, "We must recognize the value of nuclear power."


Senate Bill 26, introduced by Leeper on 5 January, calls an amendment so that nuclear power plants must have a federally-approved plan for the storage of its waste, rather than a means of permanent disposal. The bill would at least allow Kentucky to discuss nuclear power as an energy option.


The committee approved the bill by a vote of 9-1. Senator Ray Jones, the only committee member to vote against the bill, reportedly saw it as a direct threat to Kentucky’s coal industry. The bill will now be considered by the full Senate. Should the Senate approve the bill, it will be voted on by the House for adoption.


A similar bill introduced by Leeper was passed by the Tourism Development and Energy Committee of the Kentucky House in February 2009 by a vote of 12-6 and was subsequently passed by the Senate's Natural Resources and Energy Committee by 7-1. It was then approved by the full Senate in a 29-6 vote. However, that bill failed to receive full House approval.


In November 2008, Kentucky unveiled its first-ever comprehensive energy plan. One of the seven strategies outlined in the plan for meeting the state's energy needs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is for the use of nuclear power for electricity generation in Kentucky to be examined.


Kentucky's new energy plan suggested, "Legal hurdles to successful inclusion of nuclear energy in Kentucky's energy mix should be examined. Specifically, removal or revision of the legislative ban on new nuclear power plants must be addressed."


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News