Energy policy — nuclear: New power plant for Pueblo County?

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper):

The three-day public hearing this week on the zoning request for the Colorado Energy Park brought out local residents both for and against the proposed plant. Besides their comments, they brought reports, news articles, petitions, books and other items they wanted noted in the official record of the hearing. “There is a lot there,” Commissioner Jeff Chostner acknowledged Friday. A lawyer, he’s accustomed to reviewing stacks of documents. “From a legal perspective, we need to review what’s been presented for the record. The standard for appealing any decision we make is whether we’ve acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner. So it’s going to mean hours of review.”[…]

The commissioners have three possible decisions on April 25. They can deny Banner’s proposal, approve it, or approve it with conditions. Postponing a decision isn’t really an option, said to Gary Raso, the county’s land-use attorney. After the public hearing ended Thursday night, Raso and county staff spent hours reading all of the offered testimony into the official record, which he will maintain at his law office in case the commissioners’ final decision is appealed by Banner to district court. County officials intend to have much of that material available for public review on the county’s website, but that will take some time. “We’ll have copies of everything that’s come in and it’s monumental,” Commissioner Anthony Nunez said. “That’s a reason we’re taking as much time as we are in reaching a decision. We understand whatever we decide could affect not only the current residents of the county but future generations, as well.” While Banner’s proposal is a land-use request, the commissioners actually have broad latitude in making a final decision. The fundamental question argued at the public hearing — is nuclear power safe or dangerous? — could well be the basis of the commissioners’ decision.

“There are zoning standards the commissioners will have to address in their decision, but the overriding purpose in any land-use proposal is whether it will impact the best interests and safety of the public,” Raso said. “So if the commissioners would determine they don’t believe nuclear power is safe, that would be sufficient to deny the application.”

More coverage from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit County Citizens Voice. From the article:

Wednesday night, the crowd was so big that the commissioners chose to continue the hearing for another night. Nearly all the citizens commenting at the Wednesday hearing referred to the ongoing disintegration of an entire nuclear complex in Japan, citing the potential for a similar disaster in Colorado. A clip of some public comments is online here.

Questions were also raised about the water needed to cool a nuclear reactor in an area where water is even more of a precious commodity than energy.

More coverage from David O. Williams writing for the Colorado Independent. From the article:

Another strike against nuclear power is the storage of spent nuclear fuels rods, which remain highly radioactive after they’re no longer producing power. The New York Times reports the spent fuel rods still onsite in Japan are now a bigger problem than the stricken reactors.

More coverage from the La Junta Tribune-Democrat (Andrea Flores):

Tuesday, March 14, more than 200 community members, business leaders, engineers, professors, and former nuclear plant workers to name a few, gathered at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center to hear Mr. Banner’s testimony to the commissioners. Banner began his testimony by first expressing his concern and regret for the problems Japan is facing. He went on to say that the nation has progressed in 50 years from black and white televisions to having the technology of iPads and iPhones. Banner went on to say this project would bring national attention to Pueblo. He has received calls from major networks such as NBC and CBS. Following Banner’s presentation to the commissioners, several supporters were allowed to give a three-minute presentation to the commissioners. Fowler realtor Sheila Norton told the commissioners, “I have contacted realtors from areas in the United States who have nuclear plants in their neighborhoods. All have said the property values have sky rocketed as well as new schools being constructed and businesses being built.” A former nuclear power plant worker traveled from Silverthorne to attend the meeting to give her support, saying the workers are well trained, and the plants are operated with the utmost care causing no harm to the environment…

Those who oppose Pueblo attorney Don Banner’s proposed nuclear power plant filled the Sangre De Cristo Arts and Conference Ballroom to capacity on Wednesday, March 15. After a four-hour hearing on Tuesday night, the commissioners asked the speakers to limit their comments to five-minutes and to hold any applause until the entire hearing was over. With a couple dozen people stating their disapproval of allowing this project to occur and testimony lasting another four hours, the commissioners had to continue the hearing on Thursday.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

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