The Minnesota Senate recently voted to overturn the state's ban on new nuclear power plants. I voted to end the moratorium based on facts, not because of the nuclear industry ad campaign mentioned in a recent commentary article ("Don't be fooled by nuclear power PR," April 21). Let's look at these facts.

The nuclear power industry has not claimed that conventional nuclear power is a silver-bullet solution to our energy and climate crisis. In fact, a representative of the Nuclear Energy Institute (the nuclear industry's policy organization) recently testified to a Minnesota House committee that we "need all low-emitting generating options to provide U.S. consumers with clean, low-cost, reliable and stable electricity."

Nuclear power is economical and environmentally safe. It does have sizable private-industry startup expenses, but they are offset by lower fuel costs and the ability to produce electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for extended periods of time.

In October 2006, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved an extension of the operating life for the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant for 20 years, until 2030. The commission looked at the costs of shutting down the Monticello and Prairie Island nuclear plants and replacing them with wind turbines and natural-gas generators. The added cost, according to the evidence presented to the commission, would be more than $1 billion.

The proceeding also showed that if we shut down Minnesota's nuclear plants, we would emit more than 69 million more tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Unlike other power plants, nuclear facilities contain and isolate their waste from the environment.

A new nuclear plant would provide 700 permanent jobs that pay 35 percent more than average jobs. It would also create about 800 construction jobs each of three years of construction, 200 ongoing maintenance positions, and an equivalent number of additional jobs to provide goods and services to the plant's workforce.

The nuclear industry has a permanent technical solution to the problem of nuclear waste: deep-geologic storage. Federal law designates Yucca Mountain, in Nevada, as the location for a permanent nuclear waste repository, and the U.S. Department of Energy has submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to construct a deep-geologic repository at Yucca Mountain. But the obstacles to completing that project are political.

President Obama has not proposed eliminating funding for the Yucca Mountain project, but rather has proposed reducing funding and would allow the Department of Energy to respond to questions from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) during its review of the application.

Obama has also called for a blue-ribbon commission to review the strategy for dealing with nuclear waste.

Either way, the president cannot act unilaterally to stop waste storage at Yucca Mountain. It will take a majority vote of both the U.S. House and Senate to undo the agreement. With 78 senators from 39 states who have nuclear waste destined for the site, it will be an uphill battle to change current law.

Minnesotans have paid more than $375 million to the federal government to remove the waste from Minnesota. Nationally, more than $16 billion has been collected from electricity consumers and, with interest, the federal government has some $29 billion available to build a national repository. Rather than accepting the undoing of Yucca Mountain for political reasons, we should be coming together to demand that the federal government complete the job.

Currently, the NRC is reviewing 17 applications for 26 new nuclear reactors in other states that would generate more than 32,000 megawatts of electricity. These proposed reactors are not based on outdated and risky technology. Rather they take the experience of the more than 440 second-generation operating reactors worldwide, 104 of which operate safely in the United States, and would build on an unmatched safety record. These third-generation reactors are even safer and will provide the foundation for fourth-generation reactors when they ready for deployment in 10 to 15 years. The third-generation reactors are ready and available to be part of the solution now.

The decision to end the moratorium is not a decision to construct a new nuclear power plant in Minnesota. It does, however, allow our electricity providers and the Minnesota Public Utility Commission to consider all of the options.

Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, is a member of the Minnesota Senate.