States look to act on nuclear power
Lawmakers in statehouses are looking for ways to support nuclear power close to home.
Efforts across the country could spark more action than has occurred lately on the federal level.
Debates over the future of nuclear power in Illinois and New York are the most pressing of the industry’s concerns, but the issue has emerged elsewhere. Initiatives at the local level have moved along slowly, but industry-watchers say that even by considering nuclear action, states are at least looking for ways to go where Congress hasn’t.
“We’re seeing more conversation, but not necessarily more action,” said Samuel Brinton, a fellow at the centrist think tank Third Way. “Legislation across the states has been: Do we need this now, and how do we make it better?”
In Illinois, lawmakers are grappling with how to prevent three nuclear plants from shutting down. A handful of bills to fund the power plants were introduced this year, but the state legislature adjourned its spring session before voting on them.
Industry officials say they expect the issue to be on lawmakers’ to-do list when they return for the fall term.
“There is a need in Illinois and in many U.S. states to act proactively to maintain the jobs, economic benefits and carbon-free benefits of nuclear plants,” said former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), co-chairman of the industry group Nuclear Matters. “We’re hopeful that this legislation [in Illinois] can serve as a model for the types of policies and solutions that other states can look to when assessing how best to value nuclear energy plants and to ensure these critical national assets continue to operate for the sake of our energy security.”
In New York, the nuclear industry is pushing back against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stated desire to close the Indian Point nuclear plant outside of New York City. Cuomo’s energy and finance chairman told a state Senate committee in May that the administration is working on “multiple fronts” to shut down the plant.