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Legislators discuss more nuclear power

published 4/17/2008
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Members of two House committees heard testimony on the pros and cons of lifting the state's moratorium on new nuclear power plants, but took no action.

Dean Abramson, a nuclear power expert and former University of Minnesota professor, told members of the House Biosciences and Emerging Technology Committee and House Energy Finance and Policy Division that nuclear power is being reconsidered in light of global warming. He said that while the technology is appealing because of its extremely low greenhouse gas emissions, the issue of how and where to safely store nuclear waste has not been resolved.

"Do we have a right to burden future generations with … radioactive waste?" he asked.

Richard Reister, manager of the U.S. Department of Energy's Nuclear Power 2010 program, said nuclear power could play a constructive role in helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions while preserving baseload electric generation capacity. He added that nuclear technology has improved over the last few decades to become much safer and more efficient.

Committee members asked no questions at the hearing. Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul), who chaired the meeting, said that a list of written questions would be submitted to the testifiers later in order to save time. Several Senate members were also present at the hearing.

Some lawmakers have proposed lifting the state's moratorium on constructing new nuclear power facilities, but no action is expected to be taken on the issue this year.

- Nick Busse

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