Candidates for governor split on lifting Minnesota's nuclear moratoriumby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said he would support lifting a ban on the construction of new nuclear power plants in the state. But if an effort in the Legislature to repeal the ban fails again this year, it could be an issue the new governor will have to consider.
The leading contenders for the Republican nomination -- state Reps. Tom Emmer and Marty Seifert -- both support lifting the state's ban on nuclear power.
Gubernatorial candidate Leslie Davis is the only Republican who opposes lifting the ban. Davis is concerned about storing nuclear waste and believes the focus should be on renewable energy and other technologies that are better for the environment.
The nine Democrats in the race are split on the issue. Here's how they responded to questions about whether nuclear should be part of the solution to meeting future energy needs and whether Minnesota's ban on new plants should be lifted:
-- State Sen. Tom Bakk: Supports lifting the ban. Believes nuclear energy needs to be a part of the state's energy mix.
-- Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton: Does not support lifting the ban. Believes there needs to be a solution to the issue of storing nuclear waste before the ban is lifted.
-- Former state Rep. Matt Entenza: Does not support lifting the ban. Believes it takes a long time to build a plant and says there are more immediate jobs benefits for Minnesota if we focus on expanding renewable sources like wind and solar.
-- Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner: Supports lifting the ban. Believes nuclear should be a part of the conversation on future energy needs. She shares concern about waste, but says lifting the ban doesn't mean a nuclear plant would be built here right away.
-- State Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher: Does not support lifting the ban. Is open to having nuclear be part of debate on state's future needs and would consider if a permanent waste storage solution were found.
-- State Sen. John Marty: Does not support lifting the ban. Believes energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and energy storing should be pursued first.
-- State Rep. Tom Rukavina: Does not support lifting the ban. Believes nuclear remains part of the solution to U.S. energy needs but wants Minnesota to keep the ban until the federal government finds a solution to the issue of storing nuclear waste.
-- Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak: Does not support lifting the ban. Believes developing renewable energy and improving energy efficiency should be priorities before nuclear is considered.
-- State Rep. Paul Thissen: Does not support lifting the ban. Believes Minnesota should keep an eye on developments in nuclear plants that generate and recycle their own waste but says focus in Minnesota should be developing new, green technologies.
(MPR's Tom Scheck and Tim Pugmire contributed to this report.)