Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Nuclear Plants and Red Lights

redlightHere’s the headline in the Sioux City (IA) Journal. I’m not sure what it means, though it seems to mean something.

Nuclear power, red-light camera bills could be on Iowa legislative agenda

I mean that nuclear power is given parity with the camera bill. Here’s what that’s about:

A bill likely to come before the House Transportation Committee Feb. 2 could be a financial risk to lead-footed drivers. That's HF 2048 sponsored by Rep. Walt Rogers, R-Cedar Falls, to ban red-light and speed cameras in Iowa. It calls for all existing cameras to be removed by July 1.

So far the debate has pitted law enforcement and city officials against personal liberty interests.

"How much of a police state do we want to have?" Rogers asked at a hearing where his bill won subcommittee backing.

What pops into my head is: how many traffic lights are there in Iowa?

But really, we came for the lights and stayed for the energy:

Example One [of controversial legislation – banning traffic light cameras is the other] is a bill that would pave the way for MidAmerican Energy to pursue approval to develop a small-scale nuclear reactor with ratepayers picking up the cost. House File 561, which was approved 58-39 in the House last year, is scheduled for action in the Senate Commerce Committee Jan. 31.

While Chairman Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, spoke glowingly of the bill and MidAmerica's plan, Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, called nuclear energy environmentally risky and said the bill places an "enormous financial risk on customers."

Iowa derives 72 percent of its electricity from coal (almost 8 percent from nuclear). If Rep. McCoy wants to get together at an Iowa City chop house, we can have a friendly chat about what’s environmentally risky.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, acknowledged there is "some support" in the Senate for the bill as well as concerns with protecting utility customers.

However, doing nothing has its risks, too, he said. "Every option will result in some increase."

Of risk, I think.

The story doesn’t tell us what Gov. Terry Branstad is thinking, but this one does:

Gov. Terry Branstad says he's open to legislation allowing MidAmerican Energy to bill customers for the cost of a proposed nuclear power plant before construction is complete.

Speaking Monday at his weekly news conference, Branstad maintained Iowa should consider all kinds of energy sources, including nuclear power.

So far, so good. Different state initiatives have been gaining some traction over the last few years. The Iowa one has just come out of committee, so who knows its chances, but it looks to be in pretty good shape.

The iconic traffic light from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks (1990-1991). It’s a symbol, but of what, we may never know. In any event, if there’s a camera on it, some Iowans want to know about it.

4 comments:

Joffan said...

The traffic light made me go looking - ain't Google marvellous? - for an image that popped into my head about how anti-nuclear groups think the NRC ought to work...

gmax137 said...

"What pops into my head is: how many traffic lights are there in Iowa?"

Can you do any better than this cliched stereotype from inside the Beltway? Have you ever *been* to Iowa?

Mark Flanagan said...

To gmax137: Well, as a rural boy myself, I'm okay having fun at the expense of a largely rural state, but if it helps, I'm with the legislature: kill the red light cameras. Police work is only easy in a police state.

gmax137 said...

"Police work is only easy in a police state."

I like that one Mark!