Kentucky’s 2nd District State Representative is, for the fourth time, introducing legisaltion to lift the statewide nuclear ban.
Gerald Watkins’ pre-filed bill would end the decades-old moratorium and add Kentucky to the list of nuclear-power generating states.
Watkins has filed similar legislation three times before. Although its Senate counterpart would pass, each attempt failed to pass the House energy committee.
But as Republicans now hold a majority of House and Senate seats, Watkins, a democrat, is confident this bill will get a better reading.
“With the change in the majority of the House and the Republicans’ emphasis on job creating, and the strong Republican support for the bill and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has it as one of their highest priorities, I think the time is right for the bill to pass," said Watkins.
Watkins says nuclear bills have historically been opposed by lawmakers in eastern parts of the state defending the coal industry. But he says nuclear power in Kentucky would work in concert with the coal industry, instead of replace it.
“On the energy committee, it’s heavily loaded with a lot of eastern Kentucky lawmakers, or has been, it’s hard to convince them that nuclear is compatible with coal and actually makes coal more attractive because it reduces the carbon footprint for the state which means we can burn more coal," said Watkins.
Watkins says he’s confident in the bill getting a reading as Republicans with the House majority will be focusing on job creation and economic legislation. Sen. Danny Carroll is sponsoring the sister bill in the Senate, which has approved such nuclear legislation in recent years. Carroll has said that Kentucky needs to diversify its energy portfolio in the event that natural gas prices spike.
The session begins January 3rd.
“With the change in the majority of the House and the Republicans’ emphasis on job creating, and the strong Republican support for the bill and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has it as one of their highest priorities.”