As noted in my article for the St. Louis Beacon, an effort to pass a site permit bill appears to be dead for this legislative session.
The above video features the bill’s handler -Sen. Robin Wright-Jones, D-St. Louis City - discussing the issue’s future.
I’m getting acclimated after a long day at the Missouri Capitol. I have a bunch of videos to post from the press avail for Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles.
The first clip is Dempsey talking about legislation allowing ratepayers to pay for a site permit for a potential nuclear reactor in Callaway County.
The push for a second nuclear reactor in Callaway County is the subject the latest Monday analysis from the Associated Press.
AP reporter Chris Blank writes how lawmakers spearheading the effort are continuing with site permit legislation even though nuclear energy is under scrutiny due the events in Japan.
From the analysis:
Backers of legislation designed to help build a second Missouri nuclear power plant are pushing forward with the idea, despite an emergency in Japan set off by an earthquake, tsunami and overheating reactors.
Yet, fears of meltdowns, radiation and the long term ramifications of the Japanese situation have spread across the Pacific. It also has tinged Missouri’s debate about whether to let power companies charge their customers for taking a preliminary step toward potentially building a second reactor here.
“Obviously it’s bad timing,” said Republican Sen. Mike Kehoe, who has sponsored one of the proposals and whose central Missouri district could include a second nuclear plant. “You couldn’t ask for any worse timing probably … but I think it also gives you an opportunity to make sure you’re highlighting the safety features any nuclear plant has designed into it.”
Earlier this week, I wrote an article for the St. Louis Beacon about whether the nuclear crisis in Japan would dim chances for another nuclear reactor in Callaway County.
Gov. Jay Nixon was asked that very question today at a press conference at an ice skating rink in St. Louis City. Click on the video to see the Democratic governor’s response on the issue:
In light of the Japanese nuclear crisis, will efforts to build another nuclear reactor in Callaway County stall? That’s question from my latest article for the St. Louis Beacon.
From the story:
In an interview with the Beacon, Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, said he doesn’t think Japan’s situation will influence the debate over site permit legislation.
“We knew and we know that we’re in an earthquake alley. And I’m sure that was all debated out when we first located the first reactor in the Callaway area,” said Crowell, who is sponsoring a site permit bill with a funding stream for the Office of Public Counsel. “I think we’re going to focus more on the actual text of the legislation and keep our prayers and thoughts with the people of Japan right now.”
Crowell said there are numerous differences between nuclear plants in the United States and others around the world. For one, he said the problems are emanating from failure of backup power sources to cool the Japanese reactors down. He said American plants have “triple redundancy” of power sources.
“If I thought Japan was going to impact this, we would be talking about shutting down” the current nuclear reactor in Callaway County, he said. “And I don’t think anyone is advocating shutting down Callaway.”
Last week’s massive earthquake in Japan sparked fears of a nuclear meltdown. And that may have a ripple effect on nuclear power in America.
Politico, for instance, is reporting that U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., is calling for a moratorium on new nuclear reactors until a safety review is completed. More from the article:
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) called Saturday for the NRC to impose a moratorium on building new nuclear reactors in seismically active areas until a sweeping new safety review is completed, and he demanded reviews of the Japanese plant’s design to determine if there were flaws that could repeat themselves elsewhere.
On Sunday, two senators who have leaned toward nuclear power offered wait-and-see assessments.
“I don’t think right after a major environmental catastrophe is a very good time to be making American domestic policy,” Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) said on “Fox News Sunday.”
And Sen. Chuck Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” said that nuclear safety is paramount. “We’re going to have to see what happens,” he said.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), though, called for a halt to permitting for new U.S. nuclear power plants until the scenarios that led to the serious reactor problems in Japan are determined.
You can also read Robert Koenig’s article in the St. Louis Beacon about how the Japanese crisis is affecting the nuclear power debate in America.
Even though he wasn’t a member of the committee, Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, was present for a marathon hearing over site permit legislation that could pave the way for a nuclear reactor in Callaway County.
His bill is one of two vehicles that would allow Ameren and a consortium of utility companies to pass on the costs of a site permit onto rate payers. The other bill - sponsored by Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau - would establish a funding stream for the Office of Public Counsel.
I caught up with Kehoe after the committee hearing ended and asked him about the prospects for his legislation, as well as whether this bill was forestalling a large fight over how to fund another nuclear reactor in Callaway County.
A Missouri Senate committee considered two bills yesterday that could pave the way for a nuclear power plant in Callaway County.
As mentioned in the previous post, the sticking point between Sen. Jason Crowell’s [right] bill and Sen. Mike Kehoe’s legislation is whether to provide a ratepayer-fueled funding stream for the Office of Public Counsel. That’s the entity that represents consumers and the public in front of Missouri Public Service Commission.
Here’s more from my article in the St. Louis Beacon:
Consumer groups, big corporations and Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, endorsed Crowell’s bill. But that measure received a chilly reception from utility company representatives; they support legislation by Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, which does not include a funding for the public counsel.
Crowell said earlier this month that keeping that agency well-funded could be beneficial for consumers. He repeated that message after presiding over a six-and-half hour hearing over the issue.
“Most of the people who were for [Kehoe’s bill] don’t pay Ameren rates,” Crowell said. “Most of the people with concerns over the bill pay Ameren rates. That’s what it boils down to.”
Representatives from environmental groups rejected both bills, saying that it would give Ameren a “foot in the door” to come back and have ratepayers fund the cost of a nuclear plant.
After a six-and-half hour hearing on legislation allowing Ameren and a consortium of energy companies to pass the costs of a site permit to ratepayers, Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, talked with reporters about his bill that includes a funding stream for the Office of Public Counsel.
I asked Crowell his reaction to the OPC funding being termed as a “poison pill.” I also asked whether the fight over the site permit was delaying a bigger battle to fund a potential power plant.
The final audio clip from my interview with Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, features the two-term lawmaker explaining why his site permit bill is the best course of action.
Crowell is one of a number of lawmakers - including Sens. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, Brad Lager, R-Savannah, and Mike Parson, R-Bolivar - who have introduced bills on the issue.