Energy policy — nuclear: The Pueblo County Commissioners vote 3-0 to deny approval for the proposed electrical generation plant

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With the nuclear disaster in Japan still underway the timing for a new plant in Pueblo County couldn’t have been any worse. It looks like a nuclear wedge as part of the solution for Global Climate Change is going to be hard to get in place. The commissioners cited concerns over water needs as the driving force. Here’s a report from Peter Strescino writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

After the vote, [local lawyer Don Banner] said he would not appeal the decision but “respectfully disagreed” with it. Banner said people were “stirred up” over headlines from Japan, where that country’s nuclear energy program took a hit from a giant earthquake and resulting tsunami last month. “I think the decision (by commissioners) was made independently of that,” he said of the Japan tragedy. “People know these plants are now as safe as they humanly can be, but they get stirred up, don’t do research and just react to headlines.”[…]

Commissioner Anthony Nunez said he was all for economic development, but that new nuclear production has essentially stopped and the cost associated with the plants caused coal to be a more efficient way to produce energy. “And how much water would be needed just to run the plant, never mind if there was an emergency,” he said.

Commissioner Jeff Chostner, who is a friend of Banner’s and has been associated with him in legal practice, called Banner a fine man who has the public’s interest at heart. Chostner then gave a brief rundown of the country’s wars over oil and said too much blood and treasure has been wasted on the diminishing resource.

“But (his reason for voting no) is water,” Chostner said. “From an operational need to emergencies there are differing figures (about how much will be needed). We say we have enough water for a city of 350,000, but these energy uses (including the current power plants here) bring that down to enough for 300,000 people. That’s a chunk to take out of agriculture. And the last resort if we needed water for an emergency would be the Pueblo Reservoir. The county does not own a drop of that water.” Chostner continued, “I think we need to race to find alternative energy sources. At some place, at some time, we need to make nuclear energy appropriate.

More coverage from Abbie Burke writing for the Colorado Connection. From the article:

“It was a hard decision to make,” said Anthony Nunez, Commissioner, Chair Pro Tem, District 1. “I always kept in mind the water that it would take to cool these reactors down, that was paramount for me,” he said.

Nunez said agriculture is his number one priority and questioned what would happen to agriculture if Pueblo experienced a drought. “When I looked at those two things (water and agriculture) it’s what helped me to decide that I couldn’t go with it at this time,” Nunez said…

“They’re as safe as can humanly be made safe,” said Banner. “We send people in satellites to the moon and back and for the most part they do it safely, we can build nuclear power plants in this country safely.” Banner said Southern Colorado missed out on a great economic opportunity. “I think Southern Colorado’s economy would have been greatly bolstered as a result of this, if we would have passed it and it would have come to fruition,” he said.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

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