Nuclear bill’s failure a win for all Iowans

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: May 20 2012 | 12:01 am - Updated: 31 March 2014 | 7:21 pm in

By Mike Carberry

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In a major blow to the nuclear industry, the Iowa Legislature adjourned without passing a bill that would pave the way for MidAmerican Energy to charge ratepayers in advance for new nuclear reactor construction.

The utility could have been allowed to keep the money even if construction was never completed. MidAmerican lobbied extensively for the bill but Iowa ratepayer concerns about nuclear power doomed the proposal. An Iowa Poll by the Des Moines Register in January found that over three fourths of Iowans were opposed to the measure. The legislation was unneeded — nuclear power is already allowed in Iowa if it can compete with alternatives.

The failure of this nuclear bill shows that the Iowa Legislature is listening to the people of Iowa and not to the well-financed nuclear power industry or to MidAmerican Energy’s lobbyists.

Wall Street refuses to fund these nuclear boondoggles and so do the private investors of MidAmerican Energy. Now the Iowa Legislature has stepped up and said no to Iowa ratepayer funding as well.

And they have good reason: Nuclear reactors are dangerous, expensive, and produce deadly waste for which there is no solution. Nuclear reactors are so 20th century and should be left there.

We need to move into the 21st century by emphasizing a clean-energy future that relies on energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energies and smart grid technologies.

Friends of the Earth worked with local and national groups, including AARP, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club, Green State Solutions, Iowa PIRG, Iowa Environmental Council, Iowa Farmers Union, Iowa Move to Amend, CREDO Action and Physicians for Social Responsibility in the debate about the cost-recovery bill.

We took out radio and television ads, called more than 100,000 Iowans, and mobilized thousands of activists who called and wrote their elected officials.

This is a victory for all Iowans. Already a national leader in wind power, Iowa is ready to move away from the dirty energy sources of the past, including nuclear, and lead the country toward a clean 21st century energy future.

This is also a victory for Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and the Iowa Senate Democrats for standing up for consumers, and a loss for Speaker Kraig Paulsen and the Iowa House for approving its version of the bill on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, a month after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Mike Carberry is the Iowa Nuclear Campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth, a global network of activists in 76 different countries. Comments: mikecarberry@gmail.com

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