Lawmakers in our region are meeting Thursday to discuss the potential economic windfalls from nuclear waste storage. It's the first meeting of Wyoming's Spent Fuel Rods Subcommittee, which was created earlier this year.
The subcommittee, made up entirely of Republican lawmakers, will hear presentations from top officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy.
Kara Colton is the director of nuclear energy programs with the Energy Communities Alliance. She says it's critical that Wyoming lawmakers clearly articulate what they're willing to store - and for how long.
"There's always the risk in politics, and issues that have political winds pushing them one way or the other, that something that starts out as storage suddenly becomes de-facto permanent," she says. "And there are lots of communities that are concerned about that."
State lawmakers say they are looking at options to help offset the decline in coal revenues. But environmental groups in the state have historically opposed nuclear waste storage.
All of this work comes as the nation's permanent nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada remains dormant. Nevada lawmakers have pushed against efforts to re-open the licensing process for that site.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.