Rep. Laura Brod: Clean. And certainly affordable!

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by Rich Broderick | May 18, 2009 • Every legislative sessions yields nuggets of unmined fool’s gold, but here’s one vein that ought to catch the eye of everyone concerned about Minnesota’s – and the country’s – environment.

Rep. Laura Brod ia a mostly pro-business, sort-of social conservative Republican from New Prague. Among the bills she sponsored this session was one that would require Minnesota’s Commissioner of Administration “to review the privatization potential of state agency services and to prepare a database of all state-owned assets” (gosh, just what we need — more outsourcing of government work; after all, look how great things worked out with FEMA and Blackwater!), a bill that would abolish state election recounts and require runoff elections (wonder if Brod woulda thunk of this one if Normie were leading in the recount?), “performance-based compensation” for public school teachers, and a bill calling for criminal penalties for doctors who perform abortions outside of very narrowly delimited parameters – yet another stealth attempt to make abortion all-but-unavailable even if it might still be legal.

In other words, Brod is your standard issue, lock-step GOP drone.

But on May 13, she briefly went to the head of her class. After the House refused to go along with a Senate action that would have lifted the current ban on construction of new nuclear power plants in Minnesota, Brod proposed placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot allowing the state’s voters to eliminate the ban.

Her intent, Brod disingenuously claimed to the ever-compliant Gary Eichten on MPR today, is _not_ to promote the nuclear industry but to make sure that “all the options are on the table” when it comes to planning a future in which energy is both “clean” and “affordable.”

Right. And Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were only interested in using waterboarding to keep America safe from terrorist attacks, not to gin up phony evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq.

In addition to the obvious bad faith behind Brod’s declarations that she is doing anything but trying to open the door for Xcel to start pushing for new nuclear power plants, her description of nuclear energy is based upon two outright falsehoods.

Nuclear energy is not “clean.” And it sure as hell is not “affordable.”

First the clean part. Yes, nuclear power plants do not produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide or other Greenhouse Gases. On the other hand, they do produce highly toxic radioactive waste material – part of it possessing a half-life of 24,000 years – for which we have no safe storage facilities.

This fateful absence of such facilities is why the ban was enacted in the first place. Furthermore, a catastrophic accident at even one of the two plants we already have in Minnesota – Monticello or Prairie Island – would render portions of the Upper Mississippi Valley uninhabitable for hundreds of years to come while also polluting every drop of water flowing downstream between Minnesota and the Gulf of Mexico. By what standard any honest person could call nuclear energy “clean” is beyond me, unless, of course, you are someone like Brod, channeling spin — and campaign funding, perhaps? — directly from Xcel.

As for affordable – sorry. Not even remotely true. The very first thing Xcel would request once a ban on new construction was lifted and a license for a new plant issued would be for a public subsidy, not just to underwrite construction, but also production of nuclear power in perpetuity. The truth is that not a single nuclear plant in this country has ever paid for itself; all require massive public subsidy to operate and turn a “profit.” Nuclear power is the ultimate example not of “affordable” anything but of the internalizing of profit and externalizing of costs that has been carried to such absurd extremes by Corporate America.

If approved, Brod’s proposed amendment would go on the ballot in 2010. Now might be a good time to let her – and other members of the Legislature – know exactly how you feel about the idea.

Her email is rep.laura.brod@house.mn. I’m sure she’d like to hear from you.

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