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Committee kills bill that would have established feasibility study on nuclear energy

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Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – A legislative committee killed a Republican-backed bill on Thursday that sought to establish a feasibility study on nuclear energy operations in Colorado.

Senate Bill 22-073 would have required the Office of Economic Development (OED) to study using small modular nuclear reactors as a carbon-free energy source that would contribute to the state’s goal of reducing overall carbon emissions. 

The Democratic-controlled Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee voted to postpone the bill indefinitely by a 3-2 party-line vote. 

“As other states begin lifting their moratoriums, such as West Virginia, or actually initiating small modular reactor projects, such as Wyoming, Colorado is left behind,”  Sen. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, one of the bill's sponsors, said in a statement. “Climate change may be real, but the Democrats’ concerns about it are as fake as can be.”

During the bill’s hearing on Thursday, Democrats expressed concerns that the bill would duplicate the efforts of federal agencies such as the Energy Information Administration that are already performing similar studies. 

Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Boulder, said she would rather see the funding go toward Colorado’s Just Transition Office, a state agency tasked with helping workers in industries like coal and oil and gas transition into clean energy jobs. 

Jaquez Lewis also expressed concerns about the cost of implementing nuclear energy facilities in Colorado. 

SB22-073 carried a $500,000 price tag for OED to conduct the feasibility study. 

“Democrats talk a big game on cutting carbon emissions,” Rankin added. “But when solutions present themselves - such as investigating nuclear energy - they fail to take even the first step forward.”

The legislation was backed by groups such as the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, Generation Atomic, the Colorado Rural Electric Association.