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Assembly OKs Lifting Moratorium On New Nuclear Power Plants

Walker Says He Supports Ending 33-Year Ban

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The state Assembly voted Tuesday to repeal Wisconsin’s decades-old moratorium on constructing new nuclear power plants.

The 1983 moratorium prevents the creation of new nuclear facilities until a federal facility is built that can handle the spent nuclear fuel. It also requires that any new plant be advantageous to ratepayers.

Waupaca Republican Rep. Kevin Petersen said he knows of no plans to build a new nuclear plant in Wisconsin, but lifting the moratorium would at least put the option on the table as the state faces new federal rules on greenhouse gas emissions.

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“We’re going to say, ‘We’re going to have the discussions on what’s the best source of energy and the cost efficiency moving forward in the state of Wisconsin,’”

But Madison Democrat Chris Taylor said it’s premature to talk about more nuclear power without a clear plan for storing nuclear waste.

“Do you think, Mr. Speaker, your constituents want nuclear waste in your backyard? Well, I’ve got news for you. They don’t,” Taylor said during the floor debate on the bill.

The plan passed on a voice vote. It heads next to the Senate, where its future is unclear. If it does clear that hurdle, Gov. Scott Walker says he will sign it.

“In a time when we’re trying to make sure we deal effectively with preserving our natural resources, nuclear energy is one of those powerful options that reduces our dependency on other forms of energy out there and it has a positive impact on the environment,” Walker said.

During his first run for governor in 2010, Walker promised to lift the 33-year-old moratorium.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story featuring Associated Press content has been updated with original reporting. An incorrect spelling of Rep. Kevin Petersen’s name has been corrected.