Nuclear industry suffers major defeat in Iowa

Nuclear industry suffers major defeat in Iowa

For Immediate Release
June 30, 2011

Matthew Cain, [email protected], (202) 222-0751
Kelly Trout, [email protected], (202) 222-0722

Nuclear industry suffers major defeat in Iowa

Despite intense industry lobbying and contributions, Iowa Senate adjourns without passing ill-advised ‘cost recovery’ bill

Des Moines, Iowa — In the latest of a series of blows to the nuclear industry since the meltdown at Fukushima, the Iowa Senate adjourned today without passing a bill that would pave the way for MidAmerican Energy to charge ratepayers in advance for new nuclear reactor construction. The utility would have been allowed to keep the money even if construction was never completed.

MidAmerican lobbied extensively for the bill — and donated tens of thousands of dollars to Iowa politicians — but post-Fukushima concerns about nuclear power doomed the proposal. A SurveyUSA poll sponsored by Friends of the Earth in April found that nearly three quarters of Iowans were opposed to the measure, and that 70 percent would rather the state invest in renewable energy than nuclear. A Washington Post poll showed 64 percent of Americans are opposed to building new reactors.

“The failure of this bill in Iowa, especially after MidAmerican did so much to grease the skids in the legislature, shows that the nuclear industry is on the ropes,” said Friends of the Earth climate and energy project director Damon Moglen. “Private investors have long been unwilling to gamble on nuclear reactors, and now voters are refusing, too. And they have good reason: reactors are dangerous, expensive, and produce deadly waste for which there is no solution. Fukushima crystallized what was already clear: nuclear reactors are a mistake of the past, not a solution for the future.”

The bill passed easily out of committee on March 2, but lost momentum after the disaster, which occurred little more than a week later. Friends of the Earth worked with local and national groups including the Environmental Law and Policy Center, the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club, Green State Solutions, Iowa PIRG, Iowa Environmental Council, CREDO Action, Public Citizen, and Physicians for Social Responsibility in the debate about the cost recovery bill, taking out TV and newspaper ads, phoning more than 100,000 Iowans, and mobilizing thousands of activists who called and wrote their elected officials.

“This is a victory for the people of Iowa, who will not have to worry about bearing the financial or safety risks of new reactor construction,” continued Moglen. “Iowans recognize that nuclear reactors are inherently dangerous. Already a national leader in wind power, Iowa is ready to move away from the dirty energy sources of the past, including nuclear, and lead the country toward clean 21st century energy options.”

Reactor construction plans across the country have been faltering since the Fukushima disaster, with NRG Energy pulling its support from the South Texas Project and the Missouri legislature killing a cost recovery bill similar to Iowa’s. In addition, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission cited serious design flaws when it put the brakes on licensing the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design, which was supposed to be the basis for new reactors in Georgia and South Carolina.


Friends of the Earth is fighting to defend the environment and create a more healthy and just world. Our current campaigns focus on promoting clean energy and solutions to climate change, keeping toxic and risky technologies out of the food we eat and products we use, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and work near them.

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