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February 11, 2011

Reversing a commitment to safe energy production in Minnesota

The Minnesota State House panel voted earlier this week to repeal the moratorium on new nuclear power generation. While there is little chance this bill will be enacted into law in its current form, it demonstrates a lack of concern for the health and well being of all Minnesotans. The House panel vote follows the passage of a similar bill in the Senate.

Presented as a “clean” energy option, the Minnesota legislature is ignoring the realities of producing electricity using a highly toxic and radioactive material which poses a threat to communities in all stages of mining, processing and waste disposal.

The state moratorium was implemented in 1994 because of the lack of real solutions to these critical concerns - concerns that remain largely unresolved. The high economic cost of nuclear energy should also give us pause. Minnesota has long been a leader in energy alternatives and should instead be directing these investments into more cost-effective solutions that would benefit the local economy - such as energy efficiency, wind, bio-based fuels and solar. Real clean energy options and conservation offer all Minnesotans alternatives that are renewable and safe today and for the future. And importantly, these energy sources can also create many more jobs here in Minnesota, benefiting the state and local economies.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy supported the moratorium when it was passed in 1994. Proponents of lifting the moratorium declare that this does not necessarily mean new nuclear plants will be built, but there is no doubt that this is the first – critical - step in this high risk cycle of energy production. We look to the legislature to demonstrate common sense and stop the drive to allow expansion of nuclear power in Minnesota.

Stay tuned for a webinar series the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy at IATP is organizing on nuclear energy scheduled to begin in March.

Shalini Gupta

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