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A small, but committed group of Iowans gathered on the steps of the capitol to protest the development of nuclear energy in the state.

“It is not the way to go for us or anyplace else in the world,” says Jane Magers, coordinator of Iowa Beyond Nuclear Coalition.

Demonstrators used the one year anniversary of the nuclear disaster in Japan to make their case for why the state shouldn’t get in the nuclear power business. But supporters of a bill to explore nuclear power in Iowa say technology is much more advanced.

“Nuclear power is emission free so it’s a very environmentally friendly form of energy and in terms of some of the safety concerns- technology has come a very long way,” says Jay
Byers, executive director of the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

Byers believes it’s important for lawmakers to lay the ground work now to fuel economic growth in the state.

“The small modular nuclear power plants, what Mid-American has been talking about are really the wave of the future,” he says.

But those who want a nuclear free Iowa aren’t convinced.

“This will be a very important week,” says Magers. “We don’t know if we will be able to stop this bill.”

A vote is expected on Senate File 390 next week. If it clears the Commerce Committee, debate on exploring nuclear energy in Iowa could move to the Senate floor.