NIMBY Wins: North Dakota County Slams The Door On Research Aimed At Helping Nuclear Energy


My newspaper column on Sunday was about not-in-my-backyard parochialism standing in the way of progress. One of the examples I cited was the opposition in Pierce County (Rugby) to a University of North Dakota research project aimed at finding better ways to store the byproducts of nuclear energy.

Keep in mind, this was just research. There would be no radioactive material involved at all. In fact, significant changes to state law would be needed before any of that sort of waste could be stored in North Dakota.

When I wrote the column things looked grim for the project’s future in Pierce County. Today comes official word that the county commission will not allow the project to go forward.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]We should all regret this knee-jerk reaction to what appeared to be a worthy project.[/mks_pullquote]

“We want them to know we’re not interested in this project,” commission chairman Dave Migler said, according to the Bismarck Tribune.

“We have no regrets at all,” Migler added.

That’s too bad. We should all regret this knee-jerk reaction to what appeared to be a worthy project.

While fossil fuels like oil and coal are important to North Dakota’s economy, nuclear energy has a lot of promise too. As we move into the future it’s important to explore all potential sources of energy.

Our future prosperity in an increasingly power-intensive society indexes directly to the availability of abundant and reliable energy. Nuclear could be a major part of that mix, but only if we solve the problem with the waste it produces.

That’s the riddle UND researchers were hoping to contribute some answers to. Unfortunately they won’t get the chance, now.

At least not in Pierce County.