President Obama has called for a new generation of nuclear-power plants. But when he abandoned plans to store the nation's nuclear waste in Nevada's Yucca Mountain, he effectively forced states eager to break ground on reactors to accept the idea of keeping that waste within their borders—not a popular idea since the Three Mile Island meltdown. But could Kentucky become home to an alternative? Its state Senate recently approved a bill that would OK nuclear-waste storage. And Kerri Richardson, a spokeswoman for Gov. Steve Beshear, says storing other states' waste "would certainly attract a lot of interest from our administration."
For a coal-rich area without an existing plant, Kentucky's openness is a sign, say energy analysts, that anxiety about waste storage is waning. It's "a tipping point," says Vanderbilt professor Charles Powers, an expert on nuclear-waste solutions. Still, don't expect resistance to end overnight: Kentucky's bill could die in the House, as did two previous versions. But if this isn't the year the state's nuclear future arrives, Beshear says he won't be deterred.