ST. PAUL - Minnesota senators today voted to end a long-time moratorium on nuclear-power plant construction.

The long-divisive issue passed 42-24 as an amendment to an overall energy bill that later received tentative Senate approval.

"Please vote yes for less CO2, please vote yes for less climate change," Sen. Steve Dille, R-Dassel, urged before the vote.

Dille said he was surprised that his amendment passed.

Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, earlier withdrew a bill to end the moratorium, citing lack of support. A House committee defeated a version of the moratorium.

The sponsor of the overall energy bill said the issue needs discussion, but problems with waste nuclear fuel storage remain serious.

"I think it does need further discussion," Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon, DFL-Duluth, said. "I feel there still are significant questions about storage that need to be addressed."

Prettner Solon said she was glad to have the discussion about the measure, but since the House supports the moratorium, she said that the law likely will remain as is.

Murphy said that casks that hold Prairie Island nuclear power plant storage in his district are safe.

"You can walk up and hug these casks," Murphy said. "It is noting to be afraid of."

The Red Wing senator said he would be willing "to pitch a pup tent right now on the berms" next to the waste casks.