Bill to undo moratorium on nuclear plants stalls

A bill attempting to lift the state's 1994 ban on consideration of new nuclear power plants has hit a roadblock.

A surprise amendment to the legislation in a Senate committee attached some conditions, including the requirement that the federal government solve the nuclear waste problem before Minnesota could build a new plant.

The committee approved that amendment, largely on party lines. Sen. Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, who authored the bill, moved to table the entire bill.

It can be brought up again on the Senate floor. But John Tuma of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership said the committee action reduces its chance of passage.

"You'll have people that sit on the committee on energy coming forth and saying, 'We've had thoughtful conversation, yes, I voted for repeal last year, but after thoughtful consideration we need to deal with the waste,'" said Tuma.

Sen. Koch said lifting the ban would have put pressure on the federal government to find a waste repository.

"I think if states start being proactive in their approach to nuclear energy, then we start to see the federal government having to act," she said. "For the last 30 years, states have been very quiet, letting this up to the federal government. As a result, 30 years later, we're still waiting for a national repository or some solution to the waste issue."

The measure could still come up on the Senate floor. Last year the full Senate approved a similar measure, without committee debate.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story mistakenly attributed the remarks of John Tuma to another person. The current version is correct.

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