Testimony: Environment Missouri opposes nuclear power plants, HB 261

Environment Missouri's testimony opposing HB 261, placing the financial burden of constructing new nuclear power plants on Missouri customers. 

Nuclear power plant in an agricultural field
Nuclear power plant- image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay
Bridget Sanderson

Former State Director, Environment Missouri

Chairman Kidd and Members of the Committee, 

On behalf of Environment Missouri’s members across the state, I urge you to vote no on HB 261. The economic and environmental impacts that are attached to this bill are not in the best interest of Missourians. As we have seen by the support of Missouri voters in 1976 with the passage of Proposition 1, Missouri voters do not want to be saddled with the economic burden of construction on new electrical projects, this includes nuclear power plants. As a citizen-based environmental advocacy group, Environment Missouri urges the committee to vote no on HB 261, because the cost, technology, and benefits to the environment are not to the point that the nuclear power industry would like us to believe. 

We know that in order to have a safe, healthy, and sustainable future in Missouri, we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. The nuclear power industry likes to paint a picture that nuclear power is a zero-emissions form of energy, touting it as a “clean” source of energy. However, construction of a nuclear power plant causes large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, through use of fossil fuels for uranium mining, manufacturing of construction materials, and decommissioning plants after the end of their life cycle. Construction of a new nuclear power plant will only extend our fight against climate change. 

We continue to argue for Missouri to invest in clean, renewable energy to curb the worst effects of climate change. Nuclear power is not a renewable energy source, nor can the radioactive materials be considered a clean source of energy. The mining process of Uranium itself is damaging our planet. In the pursuit of a finite physical resource, the process continues to contaminate our air and water. The effects of uranium mining on workers have been studied by the U.S. Public Health Services since 1950.  The findings clearly show that workers’ exposure to radon gas (a natural decompositional byproduct of uranium decay) is a leading cause of lung cancer. If the initial step of construction on a new nuclear power plant is leading to lung cancer, how can we consider this form of energy “clean?”

With regards to radioactive waste generated through energy production, we do not have the technology to safely store this waste. The radioactive waste from spent nuclear fuel can stay on the planet for thousands of years, so we do not know or understand the underlying effects on the environment and our health. The dangers surrounding construction of nuclear power plants have been well documented. This bill will only allow these dangers in Missourians’ backyards and ask them to front the bill if this bill is passed.

There are no economic benefits to this bill. Nuclear plants have continuously proven to be more expensive and time-consuming than projected, as we have seen with the South Carolina V.C. Summer Nuclear Project. Nuclear energy is very expensive in the form of limited liability in the event of an accident and the eventual costs of decommissioning plants at the end of their useful life.  Without these taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies, nuclear would be even less economically viable. This bill is attempting to place all economic burden on the ratepayer. 

There is a better solution to our energy issues and that is renewable energy, which is more cost effective and doesn’t risk the health and safety of Missourians. Renewable energy is a better option and Missouri’s government should promote safer, more cost effective investments. 

We respectfully urge the committee to vote no on HB 261. Thank you Chairman Kidd and members of the committee. 

Sincerely, 

Bridget Sanderson

Director

Environment Missouri

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Bridget Sanderson

Former State Director, Environment Missouri

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