Although we have seen the defeat of a bill to partially repeal construction work in progress and head our state down the road to more dangerous, expensive nuclear power, there are powerful voices and lots of money still trying to get a bill through our legislature before the session ends. One of Columbia's representatives, Chris Kelly, is so intent on this that he wants a special session called just to pass such legislation.
I agree with one thing Mr. Kelly has said recently: We need to continue the discussion about the energy future we want for Missouri.
But ramming a piece of pro-nuclear legislation through the legislature at this time is a very poor way to maintain a discussion that ought to include the people of Missouri, not just the big money players.
Action now doesn't allow time for anyone to soberly reconsider nuclear energy in light of what has happened at Fukushima. That catastrophe is still unfolding, even though the American media has grown tired of reporting on it. Even so, the American people are more enlightened and more concerned about the risks of nuclear power now than ever before. Many of them now feel the risks involved in keeping enormous amounts of nuclear waste in cooling ponds is a totally unacceptable plan for the future.
A rushed-through pro-nuke bill also doesn't allow the public time to learn that a vice president at Ameren has stated publicly that there is no need to build a second reactor at Callaway, if we would pursue all the efficiency gains that could be made in this state. Does anyone imagine that the public would support a second reactor if they knew its main purpose was to serve Ameren's bottom line?
Most of us who have really educated ourselves about the proposed Callaway 2 know that an Early Site Permit is not an actual requirement to build a second plant. By pushing for this partial CWIP repeal, Ameren is simply setting the stage for a full CWIP repeal later, if it ever decides to build a nuclear plant at all. It is endeavoring to make our state and the ratepayers commit to a nuclear energy future at a time when opportunities to add clean, renewable energy and to improve energy efficiency are exciting and realistic and safe. If we put our energy, enthusiasm and dollars into those options, we can begin to see a real change now, not somewhere down the road after a $8 billion to $12 billion reactor has been built requiring ratepayers and taxpayers to bear all the risk while Ameren takes in all the profit.
Don't be mislead by claims that we cannot do without nuclear energy, not after Ameren has admitted that we can. Don't imagine that repealing just part of the no-CWIP law, which the voters passed overwhelmingly years ago, is just a little thing done to keep options on the table. By committing to building another nuclear reactor, we are, in fact, saying that we will take other options off the table.
I urge everyone to pick up the phone and tell Mr. Kelly and our other leaders what we think of that idea.
Jean A. Blackwood lives in Columbia.