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Illinois is ignoring a serious problem, and the reasoning is laughable

In World
February 19, 2024
Steam rises from one of the two cooling towers Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, at the Byron nuclear generating station in Ogle County, Ill. (Rockford Register Star, Max Gersh)

Steam rises from one of the two cooling towers Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, at the Byron nuclear generating station in Ogle County, Ill. (Rockford Register Star, Max Gersh)

JJ Bullock’s excellent article “Campaign donations, quest for new power generation fueled new Illinois nuclear power law” sadly suggests that when it comes to future Illinois energy policy, the Mike Madigan “reign of error” may not be over. It seems only the names have changed. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Despite testifying seven times before legislative committees the past two years, the laughably lopsided vote approving new small modular nuclear reactors (SMNRs) and ignoring the state’s radioactive waste problem (11,000-plus tons, increasing annually) clearly showed “something else” may have influenced that vote. Bullock’s article suggests what that might have been.

Our organization addressed every concern legislators in both House and Senate committees raised, using referenced facts, studies and experts. Attempts to bring in qualified expert witnesses (Union of Concerned Scientists physicist Dr. Ed Lyman; M.V. Ramana from University of Vancouver, B.C.) to testify were thwarted by technicalities and chairperson prerogative. Several detailed background packets sent to Gov. JB Pritzker raising concerns about these bills never received a response, nor a reply to our request for a meeting.

The claim that this legislation was passed to address power availability, system reliability or the climate crisis is laughable. The SMNR “solution” it embraces doesn’t exist, won’t before the 2030s, and may not even work – while increasing, not reducing, our radioactive waste problem.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is mandated to conduct an analysis regarding future nuclear power use in Illinois – without public input. This mistake should be corrected. The public deserves a real voice.

Dave Kraft is the director of the Nuclear Energy Information Service, a 42-year-old nuclear power watchdog and safe energy advocacy organization based in Chicago.

This article originally appeared on Journal Star: ‘Reign of error’ may not be over when it comes to Illinois policy

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