Minn. Senate takes first major vote, approves lifting nuclear ban

The Minnesota Senate voted Wednesday to lift Minnesota's longstanding ban on new nuclear plants, handing Senate Republicans an easy victory on their first major floor vote of the legislative session. The debate lasted more than an hour and included five amendments from DFLers, all of which were voted down. The final tally was 50-14 in support of the bill, including some support from DFL lawmakers.


by Eric Roper, Hot Dish Politics

The real fight has likely just begun. The Senate lifted the ban in 2009, but similar efforts failed in the House. The House voted last year to lift the moratorium with a variety of ratepayer protection clauses opposed by Republicans.

Gov. Mark Dayton may be the deciding factor

On Wednesday, Dayton sounded at least open to signing the nuclear bill but set a very high bar for any measure to pass muster.

He said the bill would have to have no impact on ratepayers, have no net increase on nuclear waste and have “no weapons grade or near weapons grade plutonium” generated from any new reactors.

“Those would be the three requirements I would have to consider it,” Dayton said. “My opposition is based on the fact that there is no national storage site (for waste)….There’s no free lunch when it comes to energy production.”

He said the waste issue is primary – right now there is no site to put any additional waste produced. The Senate bill passed on Wednesday instructs the Public Utilities Commission to study and make recommendations regarding nuclear waste.

“If that could be resolved at some point in the future then it seems to me that it changes the consideration,” Dayton said. “If there isn’t a national resolution to the waste disposal, I would not personally support an additional nuclear plant.”

Posted by Eric Roper, Hot Dish Politics