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Michigan could become nuclear power hub under proposed legislation

A new push to support nuclear power production in Michigan is taking off among state legislators.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers say that with the right policies, Michigan could become a national hub for the nuclear energy industry.

The package put forward by the so-called ‘nuclear caucus’ would make Michigan unique in its support for the industry, potentially opening the door to significant future investment.


“Essentially the policies we’re pulling together here have been done separately in other states, but nobody has ever done them together,” said Rep. Joey Andrews, D-St. Joseph. “It would put Michigan pretty far ahead of the pack, that we would have done all of this at once.”

The legislation would increase grants to the nuclear energy education and research fields, along with providing tax credits for workforce attraction and nuclear research and development.

It would also allow for the use of small modular reactors. Rep. Graham Filler, a leader of the effort, says that Michigan is in a prime spot to grow its nuclear sector and establish itself as a hub for the industry.

“We also have the number one nuclear physicist and nuclear engineer programs at Michigan and Michigan State. And so this is a state that’s just ripe for research and manufacturing and investment in nuclear energy,” said Filler, R-St. John’s.


The push has been bolstered by the proposed reopening of the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in southwest Michigan. State leaders have supported the effort and the federal government recently announced a $1.5 billion loan to jumpstart the project.

Some environmentalists believe that risks of widespread nuclear power use outweigh the benefits, and point to several high-profile disasters, along with the resources put into building a functional plant.

Supporters argue that while these concerns shouldn’t be dismissed entirely, the positives of a proven carbon-free energy source are worth exploring.

“I would say Michigan’s provided nuclear energy, the nuclear plants, for 60 years — over 60 years — with no accidents, no issues,” Filler said. “The waste that’s been created by these plants. You could fit inside one football field, it’s just spent fuel rods.”


The legislation could be considered when lawmakers return to session later this month.

Currently, about 24% of Michigan’s energy is produced by nuclear. Advocates say that this portion could expand to cover the 19% of power in the state that currently comes from coal, which will be phased out by producers in the coming years.

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