Nuclear power for Montana?
The state of Montana is known for open spaces, beautiful scenery, mild summers, cold winters and the celebrities who live there at least part time. It is also known for its long history of mining for coal as well as gold, silver, and copper. Generations of families have depended on mining and smelting for their livelihoods, including in some cases company provided housing. One of the remaining mines, a coal mine in Colstrip, Montana, is currently at the focus of legislation being considered in the Montana Senate that would fund a feasability study for the replacement of the coal fired boilers at the Colstrip power plant with Advanced Small Modular Reactors.
National Public Radio Yellowstone reported that the measure was introduced by Republican Senator Terry Gauthier of Helena, Montana. Gauthier said that modern day nuclear reactors are more affordable, smaller, and cleaner than those of years past. “I truly do believe the small modular reactor facilities (are) the future of power generation baseload power for every state across the country.”
Anne Hedges of the advocacy group Montana Environmental Information Center called for an evaluation of nuclear reactor waste as well as getting input from Colstrip residents. She noted that skepticism about nuclear power can’t be overcome unless those who are living in close proximity to the power plant are informed about “the safety and the waste stream”.
A spokesperson for Northwestern Energy, the owner of the power plant, commented that Northwestern’s goals include increasing power capacity and reducing carbon emissions.
Many future professionals in the oil and gas industry get their education and training at Montana Technological University (Montana Tech). Leaders in that industry contribute significantly to Montana Tech. One can only wonder if the lobbyists for the industry will oppose the use of nuclear power in Montana.
On the national front, President Biden is expected to carry on the Trump Administration push for nuclear energy related exports. Internationally, climate experts claim that we must drastically reduce carbon emissions, and nuclear power generation provides a clean and efficient way to realize that goal.
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