By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily
CASPER — A measure that would have allowed the state to negotiate with the federal government over the possible storage of spent nuclear fuel rods in Wyoming was removed from consideration Tuesday by a legislative committee.
Members of the Legislature’s Joint Minerals Business and Economic Development Committee agreed to stop work on the bill after its Spent Fuel Rods Subcommittee, formed to examine the issue, met in September.
Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, a chairman of both the committee and subcommittee, told committee members that based on what the subcommittee heard during its meeting, legislative authorization for the state to enter into negotiations over spent nuclear fuel storage is not needed
“I have prepared a bill as the chairman if the committee to give the governor’s office authority to negotiate with (the federal Department of Energy) on this subject,” he said. “I found out that we really don’t need to give the governor’s office the authority, that they have the authority right now. So at this time, I would like to withdraw that bill from the docket.”
Anderson also told the committee that any negotiations could take five to nine years to complete.
The idea of storing spent nuclear fuel in Wyoming has surfaced several times over the last three decades and each time, it has generated strong opposition.
Opponents to the plan were on hand for Tuesday and said they were prepared to argue that any rewards from accepting spent nuclear fuel would be outweighed by the risks.
“The biggest issue for me and the state of Nebraska, who says they don’t want a dry cask storage place to get the transportation coming through, it’s the transportation,” said Coleen Whalen, a spokesperson for Wyoming Against Nuclear Dumps. “It’s going to get off on I-80 and I-25 on our teeny little highways“
Whalen said she was pleased the committee killed the bill, but unsure of how the issue would unfold going forward.
“The bill kind of came up quick and the withdrawal of it, I’m glad they are not telling the governor to negotiate, but it could be that they are just moving it out of the public eye,” she said.
Anderson noted that there are no plans for Gov. Mark Gordon to open negotiations with the Department of Energy about the waste storage.