Last Minutes of 2014 Legislative Session Included Nuclear-Coal Debate
The waning hours of the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly session found senators debating nuclear and coal-based power. The discussion occurred during consideration of a bill to help AK Steel, a manufacturer suffering sizable job loss.
Retiring western Kentucky senator Bob Leeper sought to attach language to lift a moratorium on nuclear power permits. Leeper says he agrees with the effort to help the long time east Kentucky industry, "I do have a problem with people saying we've got issues in our area of the state and we want you to deal with them. We see you've got issues in your state but why don't you wait until next time. Well, I've been waiting til next time until I don't have a next time left," said Leeper.
Leeper has argued for years for the need to consider nuclear power production in his part of the state. He says it could help provide employment for those people who lost their jobs with the shuttering of the Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah.
Eastern Kentucky Senator Brandon Smith worried the addition could jeopardize assistance for steel workers around Ashland, "If we're gonna fulfill the energy needs for this country folks, we're gonna need all of the above, and for our area, we need realistic options, and this is a realistic option for us that can provide not only power but coal to fuel and a lot of other opportunities out there for us. said Smith.
During the late Tuesday discussion, some senators raised environmental concerns. Pikeville Senator Ray Jones says the decision in the House not to get behind the nuclear power bill should not be criticized.