A bill removing West Virginia's ban on the construction of new nuclear power plants has completed its passage through the state's legislature and will now go to the state's governor for signature. The ban has been in place since 1996.
The West Virginia House of Delegates on Monday passed the bill by 76 votes to 16. The bill was last week passed by the West Virginia Senate by 24 votes to 7. It repeals two clauses in Chapter 16 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931: Article 27A-1 and Article 27A-2, which ban the construction of "any nuclear power plant, nuclear factory or nuclear electric power generating plant" until a national radioactive waste facility is available.
The clauses also require any would-be nuclear power plant applicants to provide evidence to the state's Public Service Commission on nuclear waste disposal plans, economic feasibility and compliance with environmental protection laws and regulations.
According to the West Virginia legislature's report, the chair of the House Government Organization Brandon Steele said removing the ban did not "implement anything" and it would take "years" before any nuclear power would built in the state. Repealing the ban would allow for a "conversation" on cost, regulations, and other details to take place, he said.
According to information from the Nuclear Energy Institute, West Virginia obtains more than 88% of its electricity from coal. Although the state has no nuclear plants, nuclear energy is used in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and Maryland, all of which share borders with West Virginia.