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Nuclear power plant measure fizzles

By Paul Snyder

Nuclear power plant construction in Wisconsin likely will be just as difficult to accomplish after the legislative session as it was before.

“It’s definitely disappointing,” said state Rep. Jim Soletski, D-Green Bay. “I’m not saying we should ring Lake Michigan with 20 new plants, but we need to have the option on the table.”

Soletski and three other lawmakers drafted that option as part of the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

But the Assembly did not debate the act during its session Tuesday, and, even if it were to pass the Assembly, the Senate does not have the votes to pass the act as drafted, said Carrie Lynch, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Wausau.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act would repeal a state law that prohibits nuclear power plant construction in Wisconsin until the federal government builds a repository to store nuclear waste.

That law, Soletski said, creates a moratorium on nuclear plant development.

“The federal government has given up on the repository,” he said. “So as long as the goofy language about it stays in state law, you can’t build.”

That’s good news for nuclear opponents such as the Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin, which still supported the original Clean Energy Jobs Act. The board shifted to a neutral position on the act when an amended draft loosened the requirements that would have to be met before a plant could be built.

According to the original bill, if Wisconsin developed new nuclear plants, the electricity would stay in Wisconsin, said Charlie Higley, the board’s executive director. But the amendment dropped that requirement.

“We just think that if we’re shouldering the risk of building and operating these things,” he said, “we should also get the benefit of the power.”

The projects are not risky, said Terry McGowan, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139.

“Everyone else is building them,” he said. “People are scared because they think of Chernobyl or Three Mile Island, but there hasn’t been anything since.”

Furthermore, McGowan said, utilities and developers are a long way from building nuclear power plants, so the actual projects could still be many years away.
But, he said, Wisconsin should be ready.

“It just makes sense,” he said. “We don’t know if we’re going to have the demands later, and our guys would like to know that if the day ever came where someone wanted to build one here, they could.”


  1. The two existing nuclear plants in Wisconsin have room for another reactor with out purchasing any addional land. The community welcomes nuclear energy. Creat a bill that allows nuclear electricty production and get ALL the other BS out of the bill. In other words nuclear only.

  2. Wisconsin Government is a backward IDIOTIC bunch…

    Nuclear is a safe, cheap and clean energy………

    What is wrong with this states leaders ??????

  3. Well, I wouldn’t neither build a plant where people say **** about it (i.e. VY in Vermont).

    I know lots of people support it, as I do (62% US support), but if some people dislikes nuclear plants we can’t do anything about it. If they think they are ok with renewables and coal it’s up to them…

  4. Nuclear power is expensive, dirty and dangerous. There is still no safe, permanent way to dispose of high level radioactive waste, which is dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. Until that problem is solved, more and more of the deadly material will pile up next to the reactors. To build more reactors to produce more waste when we can’t even handle what we have makes no sense. In fact, it is unconscionable.

  5. Now that the Clean Energy Jobs Act appears dead, the nuclear industry lobby group Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) has to try again.

    Alfred Meyer, past director of Wisconsin Physicians for Social Responsibility, reports that the NEI has had four lobbyists working the state capital for a year trying to buy the repeal of our law governing new nuclear reactor construction in Wisconsin — State Statute 196.493.

    Senate Bill (SB) 340 and Assembly Bill (AB) 516 would repeal this statute’s common-sense requirements for new reactor construction in Wisconsin.

    Please urge your state lawmakers to oppose SB340 and AB516.

    Call 608-250-9240 for more information — or visit to write a letter to your legislators opposing new nuclear power, with its tritium contamination of groundwater, radioactive waste, higher electricity bills and risks of disaster.

    John LaForge
    for Nukewatch

  6. It’s a shame that the fed and state governments can’t play nice with each other. Not only is nuclear power a great way to generate power, it provides a lot of good, high paying jobs.
    I’m all for wind/solar/green, but lets be realistic. These options aren’t the answer at this point in time.

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