Politics & Government

General Assembly approves bill lifting Kentucky’s ban on nuclear power plants

The Kentucky House of Representatives paved the way for nuclear power plants in the state Wednesday, giving final passage to a bill that removes the state’s long-time ban on nuclear power.

Lawmakers said the change is necessary to give Kentucky more energy options as the coal industry continues to decline.

“We’re going to have to have a diverse energy portfolio moving forward,” said Rep. Steven Rudy, R-Paducah.

Rudy said that it would take at least 10 years before any nuclear power plant could be opened in Kentucky because of regulations imposed by the industry and the state.

“There is no expectation that the Commonwealth of Kentucky will have a nuclear reactor anytime soon,” Rudy said.

Kentucky is one of 15 states that limits the construction of new nuclear sites and has had issues with nuclear waste in the past. In the 1960s and 1970s, corporations dumped 4.7 million cubic feet of waste at the Maxey Flats site in the northeastern part of Kentucky.

“We need to remember our history in this moment as we speak about removing this moratorium,” said Rep. Kelly Flood, D-Lexington, urging members to vote against the bill.

The bill passed 65-28 and now goes to Gov. Matt Bevin for his signature or veto.