Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Flip the switch: nuke power back on in Minnesota Senate

Monday, the Minnesota Senate moved to resuscitate last session's bill overturning the moratorium on building new nuclear power plants. SF 4 has languished for over a year, but was one of the signature early initiatives of the 2011 Republican Senate led by majority leader Amy Koch. Fourteen months after the appointment of a conference committee to negotiate differences between House and Senate versions of the bill, Koch moved to take the bill from the table and reappoint new conference committee members.
Image Credit: Avidor

Many things have happened between the initial passage of this bill and its resurrection. The initial conference committee ran into a brick wall, with Governor Dayton insisting on provisions that the conferees were unwilling to insert. Then, the Fukushima disaster cast a pall on the prospects for a revived nuclear industry worldwide. After Fukushima nearly melted down, SF 4 was shut down. Now, it appears that the disgraced Sen. Koch will try to finish what she started as majority leader. 

The Senate conferees needed to be changed since an original member of the conference committee was the late Sen. Linda Scheid. She will be replaced by DFL Senator Ann Rest, who voted for SF 4 last year. Keep in mind that SF 4 originally passed the Senate 50-14, which could overturn a Dayton veto, but only gathered 81 votes in the House. It would need 90 votes to overcome a veto in the House. Having already sacked Ellen Anderson for her demonization of traditional sources of energy, there is no readily available Commissioner to threaten with a confirmation vote. 

It's hard to see how this gets done. But one of the Senate conferees, Sen. Julie Rosen, is also the sponsor of the Vikings stadium bill. Could the two be connected? With the move to bring SF 4 back from the dead, it joins a number of bills that could be used as bargaining chips in end of session negotiations. 

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

No comments: