Before the Ohio House adjourned for summer recess, members approved House Bill 104, the Advanced Nuclear Technology Helping Energize Mankind (ANTHEM) Act. On July 21, as former Speaker Larry Householder was being arrested, the sponsor of HB 104 delivered testimony before the Senate Public Utilities Committee.
The bill is intended to spur research and development of largely unproven molten salt and thorium nuclear reactors. In doing so, HB 104 would establish an unwise and elaborate state agency that would take regulatory authority away from professional agencies — including the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission — and instead place it under the Ohio Department of Commerce, which has no expertise in this arena. Moreover, the bill would empower bureaucrats at this new agency to act in the place of the governor in approving joint-development agreements.
The new agency would have some influence over nuclear plant decommissioning plans, according to an analysis prepared for the OMA. “Of special note is that Ohio’s two nuclear power plants are required to maintain decommissioning funds, and that whether their decommissioning plans were fully funded was a point of contention in the recent FirstEnergy Solutions (now Energy Harbor) bankruptcy.” 7/30/2020