The International Nuclear Safety Center has a map of the United States that displays the location of each reactor in the continental United States. The map shows operable, cancelled and permanently shutdown nuclear plants. Notice that none can be found in West Virginia with the reason being that there is a law against it, signaling to investors to look elsewhere.
West Virginia State Senator Brooks McCabe says this needs to change:
What I’m suggesting is we go out and try to educate and convince our colleagues regionally and nationally that coal is good, that we can do a lot of solid work with coal in meeting future energy needs,” he said.
It is inconsistent at the same time for us to be one of half a dozen states in the country that effectively bans the consideration of construction of nuclear power plants in our state.”
McCabe also made another interesting point that isn’t widely circulated. Many politicians oppose building new power plants or nuclear energy in general because there is no solution to the issue of nuclear waste and that the geologic repository Yucca Mountain is not open yet. At the same time politicians are willing to move forward with a plan to drastically reduce carbon dioxide through carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), a process that is nowhere near commercialization. How does the logic work behind that?
While McCabe does a good job of pointing out the hypocrisy, even comparing these two processes are comparing apples and oranges. CCS is not completely developed scientifically while the problems surrounding nuclear waste are purely political and not one bit technical. Volumes of data attest to the repository’s safety. These data have been generated by numerous sources, including both private and public entities, and more studies are being conducted.
In reality, the issue shouldn’t be an issue at all. The U.S. already has 60,000 tons of nuclear waste harmlessly sitting at reactor sites around the country. Eventually (and the sooner the better) a free-market approach to managing nuclear waste, with proper government oversight, is the only way to ensure that the commercial nuclear industry will be sustainable in the long run and politicians will be satisfied with a viable plan.
In the meantime, it is nonsensical for any state to have a ban on building new nuclear plants. These politicians are costing their states jobs and clean, affordable energy. The state motto of West Viginia is “Montani semper liberi” – Mountaineers are always free.
Doesn’t really seem to be the case.