Closing Duane Arnold puts Iowa at a disadvantage

January 7, 2021, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe


An op-ed published in The Gazette, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa–based newspaper, laments the early closure of the Duane Arnold nuclear power plant in 2020. Author David Osterberg, a former Iowa state legislator, contrasts what happened in Iowa with Illinois and three other states, whose governments "decided that heading off climate damage and the loss of good union jobs was worth keeping nuclear plants there alive." The economic calculation in Duane Arnold's case treated its electricity the same as that from coal or natural gas plants. However, Osterberg states that “when it comes to global warming and local air pollution, they aren’t the same.”

Osterberg believes that Iowa could have done something similar to Illinois, because an Illinois bill enacted in 2016 "was supported by nearly the entire environmental community, including groups that opposed nuclear power on principle." He added that keeping Duane Arnold could have acted as a bridge, with its electricity gradually replaced with new electricity generated from solar and wind over the five years that were remaining on Duane Arnold's license when it was shuttered.

"The challenge of climate change demands new ways of thinking if Iowa is to be part of the solution," Osterberg says. “With nuclear energy now off the table [in Iowa], a stronger commitment to clean, renewable power is essential.”

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