PSC members delay anti-nuclear resolution

PRESLEY

PRESLEY

By Jeff Amy

Associated Press

JACKSON – Two members of the Public Service Commission say they want more time to study a resolution calling for a rejection of any plans to store or reprocess nuclear waste in Mississippi.

Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley, who wrote the resolution and circulated it to other commissioners late last week, sought action Tuesday.

“There’s nothing to study,” Presley, a Democrat, said after the meeting, explaining why he wanted a vote. “The people are against it.”

But Commissioners Lynn Posey and Steve Renfroe refused to act, saying more time was needed.

“The theme of it was on target,” said Renfroe, the southern district commissioner who does not publicly identify as a Democrat or Republican. “I thought we could do some more work on something that all three of us would have input in. We just need to take a little more time to produce something that is as robust and thoughtful as possible.”

Presley’s resolution also aims in part to stop payments into a federal nuclear waste fund meant to build a repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev. Congress designated the site as the nation’s permanent storage site for nuclear waste. But plans to move nuclear material there have stalled, even though customers of nuclear power plants continue to pay. Presley’s resolution states Mississippi ratepayers have contributed $80 million toward the plan.

A national association of state utility regulators sued the U.S. Department of Energy, demanding the federal agency stop collecting the fees.

In March, Georgia regulators passed a similar resolution dealing with nuclear fees. But Presley’s document also sought to shoot down suggestions last year by the Mississippi Energy Institute and others that Mississippi consider a plan to store and reprocess spent nuclear fuel in the state.

The institute last summer called for the state to study interim storage and reprocessing of fuel rods, saying receiving used fuel rods and reprocessing them could create 4,000 permanent jobs and $30 million a year in taxes. The idea sparked opposition because it echoed a 1980s proposal to entomb nuclear waste in the Richton salt dome. Richton was an also-ran in the federal site selection process that designated Yucca Mountain, as was another nearby Mississippi salt dome, Cypress Creek.

“You’re either for putting nuclear waste in Mississippi or against putting nuclear waste in Mississippi,” said Presley, who has loudly opposed the proposal.

Central District Commissioner Lynn Posey, a Republican, said the delay in approving the resolution does not indicate he supports waste storage or processing.

“I think the vast majority of people of the state of Mississippi are opposed to having nuclear waste brought in,” Posey said.