Feb 23, 2011 8:25 PM by David Ortiviz

Commissioners face vote on proposed nuclear power plant

Plans are moving forward to allow the construction of a nuclear power plant in Southern Colorado. The plant would be located about 25 miles Southeast of Pueblo. County commissioners must now decide whether to okay the project.

The project certainly has it's critics, including the Sierra Club which argues nuclear power is a dangerous form of energy. However Donald Banner, the Pueblo attorney who came up with the concept says the benefits are enormous.

"In my opinion the single best thing to happen in the community in 100 years," said Banner.

Banner says the plant would be one component of a clean energy park located on 24,000 acres of land. The energy park would also include other forms of energy production such as wind, bio-mass, solar and geo-thermal.

"We need it for economic growth and for jobs," said Banner. He says he wanted to create a sustainable industry for Pueblo with up to 700 permanent jobs.

There was a decisive vote on Tuesday night. More than two dozen people spoke out about the project. About half in favor, the other half opposed.

After nearly seven hours, the Pueblo County Planning Commission Board voted to rezone the land for the nuclear power plant.

Action 22, a coalition of Southeastern Colorado counties was pleased with the outcome. "Because we feel there's an opportunity here to create jobs and build prosperity in a depressed area," said Cathy Garcia, President of Action 22.

Concerns about safety still linger in the community. "I wouldn't want to live by a nuclear power plant," said Martha Hart, a Pueblo resident.

"Nuclear power is safe," said Banner.

Banner says his motivation isn't greed. "I'd love to get rich off this scheme, but the way I've structured it, it will only get rich, and I don't think it will get rich then, if this thing is built and it produces electricity," said Banner. He says 80% of revenues generated would be spread among a dozen groups in the community, including Action 22, PEDCO, schools, hospitals, police and fire.

Pueblo County Commissioners are scheduled to meet on March 15 to vote on whether to allow the project to move forward.



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