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Justice Signs Bill To End Nuclear Power Ban

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Gov. Jim Justice has signed a bill to repeal the state’s longstanding ban on nuclear power.

Justice signed Senate Bill 4 on Tuesday. It lifts a 26-year moratorium on the construction of nuclear power facilities in West Virginia.

A dozen other states still have similar bans. Some were enacted over safety concerns or the disposal of nuclear waste.

In West Virginia, it was intended to protect the coal industry, where 88 percent of the state’s electricity comes from coal. Only Wyoming produces more coal.

State leaders have begun to embrace alternatives amid a nationwide decline in coal use. In recent years, lawmakers have made it easier to build solar power.

A nuclear power plant in West Virginia is likely years away and the cost could be a deterrent.

Still, lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the repeal and it was signed by a governor who’s himself in the coal business.

Energy & Environment Reporter, ctate@wvpublic.org, 202-679-8470, @tatecurtis

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