A bill passed in the West Virginia Senate would eliminate a ban on nuclear power plants.

The bill was approved on a 24-7 vote Tuesday.

A similar bill is pending in the House of Delegates.

The state’s ban on nuclear plants was enacted in 1996.

West Virginia is the nation’s second-largest coal producer, behind Wyoming.

It accounts for 5% of the nation’s total energy production, ranking fifth among the states.

But West Virginia has lost thousands of coal jobs in the past decade as companies and utilities explore using other energy sources to lower their carbon footprint.