Nuclear Energy Incentive Act Draws Opposition

Monday, March 16th 2009, 9:49 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

UNDATED -- Opponents of nuclear power are up in arms over what they say is a push to bring new plants to Oklahoma.  Last week, the Oklahoma Senate passed the Nuclear Energy Incentive Act.  If it becomes law, it would make it easier for companies to finance nuclear power plants.

Anti-nuclear activists say the legislation is dangerous, while the author of the bill says we have to explore alternative energy sources.

More than 35 years ago, Claremore native Carrie Dickerson began her crusade against PSO's proposed Blackfox Nuclear Power Plant near Inola.  After nearly a decade-long battle, PSO abandoned plans for the plant.  But, members of the Carrie Dickerson Foundation say legislators' new push for nuclear power is threatening her legacy.

"I think Carrie would be somewhat disappointed, knowing how much effort she put into it the first time around," said Bob Rounsavell with the Carrie Dickerson Foundation.

Passed last week, Senate Bill 831 would reimburse companies' construction costs, should they choose to build a nuclear plant in the state.       

The bill's author, Senator Brian Bingman, says nuclear is the cheapest form of energy, and a plant would bring good-paying jobs to Oklahoma.     

Bingman also points out that surrounding states like Texas, Missouri and Arkansas have not had any problems with their plants.  But, Rounsavell says besides health risks, a new plant would cost a fortune.

"It's going to be quite expensive, and again the costs all rest on our shoulders as Oklahoma taxpayers," said Bob Rounsavell with the Carrie Dickerson Foundation.

Instead, the Carrie Dickerson Foundation would like to see Oklahoma pursue what they say are safer forms of alternative energy like wind.  While it's been several decades since Blackfox, they say nuclear is still not the answer.

"There's no perfect energy form OK, but there are many that are far better than this option," said Bob Rounsavell with the Carrie Dickerson Foundation.

Oklahoma is one of 16 states without a nuclear power plant.

Senator Bingman says it would take 10 to 15 years build a plant with a cost anywhere from $4 billion to $6 billion.