Ed Smith, of the MO Coalition for the Environment, contacted us at Show Me Progress to say that there’s a third side to the argument about building another nuclear plant at Callaway County. The Coalition, alongside representatives from Walmart, Sierra Club, Missourians for Safe Energy and Missouri Votes Conservation (yes THE Walmart, to speak of strange bedfellows), flat out opposes any public funding help for Ameren in building a second nuclear plant.
I wrote last week about the opposition of a coalition led by Sen. Joan Bray to Governor Nixon’s proposal that ratepayers ante up $40 million to help Ameren apply for a license for that plant. Bray’s group opposes giving Ameren the money but feels that the political reality is (or at least was) that the Republican legislature would grant the funds. Therefore, Fair Energy Rate Action Fund (FERAF), led by Bray, is working to get something in return for that sacrifice, namely that the Office of Public Counsel would be funded by profits from utilities rather than by the state and that the OPC would get more funding, which it could use to oppose building another nuclear plant.
Charles Jaco interviewed Smith and gave him the opportunity to explain that nuclear power is very expensive, not to mention dangerous (think, Japan and then New Madrid fault line), and that coal is dirty. But if Missourians focused on improving their energy efficiency, we could save so much power over the next twenty years that not only would a new nuclear plant be unnecessary, but that the dirtiest coal plant Ameren operates could be closed down. Smith sees giving Ameren the forty Mill as the camel’s nose: a way of chipping away at the anti-CWIP law, the law that forbids making ratepayers finance new facilities before they actually come on line.
No doubt, Senator Bray understands and agrees with Smith’s arguments. Her group just didn’t want to lose the battle and have nothing to show for the effort. But now? It will be interesting to see how much or whether the danger of nuclear meltdowns in Japan changes the “fix is in” mentality in Jeff City on this issue. If that were to happen, FERAF and the Coalition might find themselves presenting a united front against the new plant.