I recently scheduled a meeting with Representative Frank Chopp to discuss House Bill 1513. House Bill 1513 was originally introduced to the House floor on January 24, 2011 and then reintroduced on January 9, 2012 when it was referred to the Committee on Technology, Energy and Communication. However, no further action has been taken on the bill since then. This really disappoints me and I wanted to question Representative Chopp about his position on this bill, voice my strong support for it and also suggest an addition to the bill that I think would be helpful.
The main purpose of HB 1513 is to promote the development and construction of nuclear energy facilities in Washington state. It does this by setting specific goals and timetables for the construction of nuclear energy facilities up to a level of 5 new facilities by 2040. It also provides guidelines for expediting the application and permitting process for nuclear facilities and establishes a joint legislative task force on nuclear energy.
While efficiency gains and increased exploitation of less controversial renewable energy sources can accomplish a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear energy should not be overlooked given its vast energy production capabilities. Washington state is in a unique position given our disproportionately high concentration of nuclear scientists working on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and we should take advantage of this to develop nuclear energy as an energy source free from greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, there are safety concerns and the issue of safely storing and disposing of the resulting nuclear waste, however technology has advanced to the point where nuclear energy can be produced and its waste contained with very little risk of environmental harm or endangering the population.
Unfortunately Representative Chopp had an unexpected meeting come up and he was not able to meet with me at the scheduled time, however I was able to meet with one of his legislative aides. She informed me that Representative Chopp was in favor of nuclear energy, but was not going to go out of his way to support a bill that did not have significant support among the members of the state House. I explained to her my reasoning for supporting the bill and how it was entirely consistent with Representative Chopp’s stand on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, I provided her with an additional provision that I would like to see added to the text of the bill. This additional language calls for a portion of the application fees for nuclear facilities to be earmarked for a statewide PR campaign extolling the virtues of nuclear power and explaining why, although far from a perfect solution, it is a much better option than traditional coal-powered energy generation.
The aide promised to pass on my message to Representative Chopp and ask him to follow-up with me. If I haven’t heard back from him in a month, I will contact his office again and continue to apply whatever pressure I can as a constituent to convince him to support this bill.