Sen. Al Franken told the Rochester Post-Bulletin that he has changed his mind on nuclear power due to a conversation with former Vice President Al Gore. Nuclear power has become a hot topic in Minnesota politics as legislators, mainly Republicans, look to lift the ban on new nuclear power plant construction. That plan has already passed one committee in the Minnesota House.
Franken said that with newer technologies, nuclear waste handling and storage capabilities can be improved and nuclear power can play a role in curbing global warming, the Post-Bulletin reports.
“Yes, (the nuclear waste) will be around for hundreds of thousands of years, but I am kind of hoping we will, too,” Franken said. “And I am kind of hoping that just as we’re going from a decade to map the human genome to a day or two days or whatever it is that we will be more and more sophisticated on storing the waste.”
He said it was a conversation with Gore that helped him change his position on the use of nuclear power to reduce greenhouse emissions.
“Nuclear has to be a part of the solution to that,” he said.
Franken didn’t directly address the lifting of Minnesota’s ban on construction of new nuclear plants, but the Post-Bulletin editorial board came out in favor this week of lifting the ban on nuclear power plant construction, which has been in place for 17 years in Minnesota.
Concerns about air pollution and global warming are blocking the construction of new coal-fired plants, and although wind energy is an important part of our future, it won’t keep up with our state’s increasing appetite for energy. Our two nuclear plants provide one-quarter of the state’s electricity – more than all “green” energy sources combined – but their futures beyond 2030 are uncertain at best.
The bottom line is that Minnesota needs to keep all of its energy options open.