WINONA, Minnesota (WXOW) -- Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton says the state's nuclear reactors are safe, but he says Japan is an example of what can happen under extreme conditions.
In early February, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted to lift the ban on building new nuclear power plants.
That bill, which would lift the 17-year-old moratorium, has yet to see Gov. Dayton's desk.
"In speaking with Rep. Tim Walz, (D) Minnesota), he says it's important to at least have that option [to expand nuclear]. Do you agree with that?" I ask the governor.
"Xcel, our major utility, says they don't need new sources of power for at least more than a decade. It's hard to understand what's driving some to make this such a priority when no jobs are going to be created as a result of it," says Gov. Mark Dayton, (D) Minnesota.
Gov. Dayton says there's no good alternative to nuclear or coal except conserving energy altogether or using more renewable resources.
"Such as geothermal, solar and wind. Even wind has consequences as we're learning with these large wind farms," Gov. Dayton says.
Gov. Dayton says there are three provisions he needs to see before he would consider signing the bill to lift that moratorium:
He says in order to build new plants, he wants to see a permanent waste storage resolution for the state's existing plants.
Also, he says there can be no weapons grade materials produced.
His third concern is protecting ratepayers from footing the bill to plan and build any new nuclear plant.
"If those three conditions can be met, I still would want to look and see what lessons have been learned from what's happened in Japan. At this point, those conditions have not been met," Dayton says.
The governor says events like Japan are reasons to take time in developing an energy plan.
Tune in Friday, March 18, 2011 for more of Gabe Erickson's exclusive interview with the governor as Dayton comments on his budget proposal and some changes in the state's education system.