Legislators Reject Encouraging Nuclear Power in Utah

Legislators Reject Encouraging Nuclear Power in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Legislators have rejected an amendment that would have encouraged development of nuclear power in Utah.

During a joint meeting of two legislative interim committees on Tuesday, Rep. Bradley Daw, R-Orem, recommended adding language to an energy bill that would encourage Utah to develop nuclear power to generate electricity.

"At our own peril of overconsuming oil and other resources, we should not ignore nuclear energy," Daw said. "There are several countries that have been very successful in productive nuclear programs."

Daw said he had toured a nuclear facility at Diablo Canyon, Calif., and "found it to be an amazing facility. We should look very closely in this state at promoting nuclear energy."

The Diablo Canyon Power Plant is owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and provides power to 1.6 million California homes, about 20 percent of PG&E's total customer base, according to a company Web site.

Utah's governors, legislatures and congressional delegations have been battling the Goshutes' proposal to host on their Skull Valley reservation a temporary storage facility for spent nuclear-reactor rods.

One of the arguments opponents of the proposal has used is that the state does not use nuclear power and should not have to be a repository for the waste created by nuclear power plants in other states.

Rep. Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake, said Utah had taken a strong position against having the state serve as a repository for high-level radioactive waste.

"We are devoting a lot of resources to try to prevent that from happening," Becker said. "The signal that is sent by singling out nuclear energy I don't think is something that would get lost on the rest of the country.

"For us to be promoting nuclear energy, particularly more than other resources in this state, I think sends a very strong signal that contradicts the position we've taken as it relates to high-level radioactive waste," he said.

But Rep. Michael E. Noel, R-Kanab, said that Utah's position was simply that the state should not become a depository for nuclear waste that is produced in another state.

"I'm not sure the state has taken a position on taking care of our own waste," Noel said. "I'm not sure that by saying we promote the development of nuclear energy in our state would any way lessen the statement that the state has made on the storage of nuclear waste here."

Sen. Beverly Ann Evans, R-Altamont, expressed concern over adding the language without having public input.

"A public policy decision like that, I think, needs to have much more study," Evans said. "That's one that has a lot of implications and a lot of strong feelings that need to be discussed in a public forum."

An alternative amendment promoting the "development of cost-effective energy resources, both renewable and nonrenewable" was included in the bill that was passed by the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee and the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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