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Opinion: Nuclear site negotiations must continue

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During the past several weeks, a group of utilities and large industrial corporations held negotiations on the nuclear site permit bill. In repeated efforts to address the opponents’ concerns, the utilities offered no fewer than five proposals, each one adding stronger protections for Missouri’s consumers, including a hard cap on costs, claw-back provisions to refund money if a plant is not built or a site permit is sold or transferred, and millions of dollars in additional funding for the Office of Public Counsel.

Not a single state has adopted consumer protections as strong as those included in the amendment to Senate Bill 207, which passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives.

Unfortunately, these large industrial corporations opposing the site permit legislation rejected every one of these proposals and repeatedly inserted new demands into the late-stage negotiations. Most recently, they demanded that OPC be allowed to accept private contributions. They did this knowing full well that utilities could not support such a proposal, and the people of Missouri would not stand for it. Allowing OPC to accept private monetary contributions would create an inherent conflict of interest for the agency and undermine public confidence in OPC decisions. In addition, adopting such a change would be an open invitation to large corporations to use wealth in an attempt to buy influence with OPC at the expense of small businesses and families.

It is clear that the large industrial corporations were merely trying to stall until the end of the legislative session, so they could walk away pretending they made a good-faith effort.

They just do not want to see a new nuclear power plant built in Missouri. The site permit legislation has broad, bipartisan support from all corners of Missouri. Both Gov. Jay Nixon and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder support it. A large bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives – 121 members – voted for it, and an additional 21 members of the Senate signed on as co-sponsors.

Despite this groundswell of support, the large industrial corporations have blocked this crucial legislation. Additional nuclear power may be Missouri’s best strategy for keeping electric rates low in the long-term, and it would create thousands of new jobs. We need to keep this option open.

—Irl L. Scissors, executive director of Missourians for a Balanced Energy Future[[In-content Ad]]

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