Online petition targets nuclear plant potential

By Wayne Barber, Chief News Analyst, GenerationHub

A MidAmerican Energy Holdings subsidiary has said it plans to file a report with Iowa officials later this year about potential nuclear power plant development, but nuclear foes aren’t waiting around.

An online petition designed to oppose any potential new Iowa nuclear plant was started April 4 on the website www.change.org. The petition started by a woman who identifies herself as a resident of Muscatine, Iowa, urges Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, the Iowa legislature, the Iowa Utilities Board and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to reject any new nuclear plant in Iowa. The online petition claims MidAmerican Energy has already purchased 800 acres of farmland in the community.

MidAmerican participated in a public meeting March 26 in Muscatine County where it talked about the idea of developing a large power station locally, which could be potentially nuclear or natural gas. MidAmerican has called nuclear and gas about the only viable baseload options available to replace coal plants as they retire. MidAmerican also said it has made no decision about what type generation to pursue in that section of Iowa.

In 2010, the state of Iowa enacted a law that directed MidAmerican to investigate possible construction of nuclear facilities in the state.

The petition states: “Nuclear power is dangerous, expensive, and unnecessary. At a time when the rest of the civilized world is moving towards green renewable wind & solar power, MidAmerican is moving backwards and putting our future at risk. Nuclear waste remains dangerous & radioactive for 240,000 years. We do NOT want a Nuclear Plant in our neighborhood!”

According to the webpage, the Iowa anti-nuclear petition has 118 supporters with at least 382 being sought.

Foes go online to fight nuclear power

Change.org is something of a hotbed for anti-nuclear petitions, including efforts to deny new licenses to the Indian Point reactors in New York and the Vermont Yankee unit in Vermont and the Pilgrim unit in Massachusetts – all of which are operated by Entergy (NYSE:ETR). Another petition claims that the Broad River in South Carolina could dry up if SCANA (NYSE:SCG) is allowed to bring online two new nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer complex.

Other documents appear to be more umbrella petitions, seeking to prevent new nuclear units from being built in the United States and elsewhere.

Another petition calls upon the media company Viacom, which owns many cable television networks, to stop running pro-nuclear power advertisements from the Nuclear Energy Institute.

"Change.org is the world's largest petition platform, empowering people everywhere to create the change they want to see,” according to the website.

MidAmerican Energy Holdings is a holding company controlled by Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK A; BRK B) the conglomerate headed by investor Warren Buffett.

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