New Nuclear Reactors Could Soon Be Built In Kentucky

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Kentucky lawmakers are about to pass legislation to repeal an effective ban on nuclear power.

The new legislation changes the legal requirements nuclear power plants must follow to dispose of waste. The bill only requires plant operators to get permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to store radioactive waste. The current law makes it nearly impossible to build new nuclear power plants in Kentucky.

If passed, the bill would repeal an effective ban on nuclear power.

The legislation was introduced by Republicans and has already passed Kentucky’s Senate. It is currently headed to the Republican-controlled House, and Republican Gov. Matt Bevin told a local radio station he would sign the bill.

“We are optimistic that Kentucky’s lifting of the moratorium on nuclear energy is a harbinger of things to come,” David Blee, executive director of the U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council (NIC), told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The decision by Kentucky is a watershed given the Commonwealth’s affinity for coal generation.”

Repealing the moratorium could eventually replace the state’s long-standing dependence on coal power for electricity.

Coal-fired power plants generated more than 90 percent of Kentucky’s electricity as recently as 2015. Kentucky currently does not have any operational nuclear reactors largely due to the moratorium, according to the NRC. Kentucky is one of 15 states to restrict the construction of nuclear power facilities.

“Nuclear moratoria are antiquated and short-sighted,” Christine Csizmadia, a director of state government affairs at the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Kentucky and Wisconsin legislators deserve a salute for their bi-partisan work to give their communities a broader range of new electricity generation options.”

Wisconsin repealed a similar moratorium effectively blocking the construction of new nuclear power plants last April. The Wisconsin moratorium had been in place for 33 years.

“It is clear that nuclear energy moratoriums are a policy anachronism,” Blee said. “It makes little sense to restrict competition in the electricity generation market for a reliable baseload resource that can drive jobs, exports and economic made-in-America clean energy leadership.”

America currently operates 99 nuclear reactors across 61 commercially-operating nuclear power plants, according to the Energy Information Administration. The average plant employs between 400 and 700 high-skilled workers, has a payroll of about $40 million and contributes $470 million to the local economy, according to the NEI. A pair of reactors TheDCNF visited in April shells out $22.8 million in tax revenue each year.

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