Due to board member selection, Kentucky governor vetoes nuclear energy legislation.

KY. — Gov. Andy Beshear rejected nuclear energy legislation in coal-producing Kentucky on Thursday, although he said his concerns were about an advisory board.  

An “all-of-the-above” energy program with nuclear energy was supported by Beshear. Coal dominated the state's economy for years, but it's declining. Supporters of additional nuclear energy called the bill's passing a turning point for Kentucky's energy future.  

The governor criticized the Kentucky Nuclear Energy Development Authority's voting member selection process, which would promote nuclear power. Beshear claimed private sector groups would appoint many members, circumventing the governor and other state constitutional officers.  

At a news conference, the governor said, “The legislature can’t just say 'you in this position in the private sector and you in that position on a private sector association are automatically on a board' and then given governing authority It's not how the executive branch works or how power is distributed to carry out  

The Democratic governor vetoed Senate Bill 198 among others. The Republican supermajority legislature reconvenes in mid-April for the final two days of this year's session to override vetoes. Beshear has signed many bills and is reviewing many more.  

Republican state Sen. Danny Carroll, the nuclear bill's sponsor, said he will push lawmakers to overcome the veto because it has bipartisan support. Carroll said the board selection process doesn't violate the governor's executive authority in a statement.  

Carroll stated that the advisory board members, representing varied entities, will be chosen by their organizations to minimize political influence. Carroll spent years working to establish nuclear power as an energy source in a state where coal has long been king. Last month, the nuclear energy bill passed the assembly.  

This also shows the increased focus on nuclear energy. Over 30 nations, including the US, pledged “to work to fully unlock the potential of nuclear energy.” The authority would not regulate Kentucky nuclear energy development. It would promote a “nuclear energy ecosystem” to boost the economy, safeguard the environment, empower communities, and train future workers.  

To grow the nuclear sector, the authority would examine labor and educational needs. A voluntary classification as a "nuclear-ready community" would convey to the industry a community's desire for nuclear development. In his veto message, Beshear stated the private sector selection of board members would deny the state “meaningful oversight”.  

The governance and structure of the authority is not only bad policy, but it is also unconstitutional by giving the governor or other constitutional officers no authority to appoint or remove voting members,” the governor stated.  

After 20 years of declining coal production, Kentucky's coal sector now produces 25% of what it did 20 years ago, prompting the nuclear energy debate. Though down from 90%, Kentucky still derives 68% of its electricity from coal. Power companies abandoned coal plants due to cheaper natural gas and stricter federal environmental requirements.  

The legislature still respects the coal sector despite its collapse. The nuclear bill's supporters stressed that nuclear energy will complement coal, not replace it. Beshear also signed a resolution directing the state Public Service Commission to prepare for nuclear energy. It orders the PSC to staff and prepare to process nuclear energy facility siting and construction application  

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