Greetings Safe Energy Advocate –

It’s now officially winter.  Both meteorologically and astronomically.  The major holidays are winding down, and we soon will face a new year.  That makes it time for NEIS to fill you in on what we’ve been up to, and what’s on the safe-energy agenda in 2020.

Exelon Bailouts – New Name, Same Results:

To paraphrase Shakespeare, a Carrion flower by any other name would smell as – foul.  The same can be said for Exelon’s 2019 attempt to subsidize its unprofitable nuclear reactors.  NEIS fought Exelon’s 2016 reactor bailout, and its new back-door version of bailouts in 2019.

Having already won its $2.3 billion overt bailout in 2016 for three reactors (Quad Cities 1&2, Clinton-1), Exelon shifted to a more subtle approach of co-opting the climate emergency for its own ends by marketing its reactors as “emissions free” (a blatant falsehood; lower-carbon, yes; emissions free, NO!), and therefore entitled to more money for its alleged environmental benefit of not putting more carbon into the atmosphere.  It now claimed that as many as 6 additional, allegedly “emissions free” reactors would have to close if it did not receive state subsidization.  Exelon asked the Illinois legislature for the ability to gain more revenue through a device called the “capacity market,” suggesting that Illinois should leave the existing PJM market where its reactors were uncompetitive.  Exelon teamed up with environmental groups concerned about Trump Administration capacity market manipulation that would subsidize fossil fuel plants to urge the legislature to act.  Both requests went unacted upon by the legislature.

This was in no small amount due to shocking FBI investigations into a lobbying corruption scandal that surfaced late summer, involving Exelon and ComEd lobbyists and several prominent state officials and legislators.  As a result, no energy legislation moved at all.  Legislators of all stripes scrambled to avoid any connection with Exelon and ComEd due to the scandal.  The environmental community broke off discussions with the two as well.  Energy legislation is expected to move again come spring session.

The environmental community had crafted a complicated and comprehensive energy bill called “CEJA” – the Clean Energy Jobs Act.  This legislation intended to greatly increase funding for expanding home-grown renewable energy resources and energy efficiency, and implementing many community-based energy initiatives as well as “just transitions” for communities adversely affected by the closure of polluting power plants and coal mines.  However, CEJA also perpetuated this new form of Exelon bailout through (mis-)use of the capacity market system.  As a result NEIS reluctantly could not support this legislation, although we made clear to all involved that we supported every aspects of the CEJA bill except for the deal-breaking Exelon “zero-emissions credits” awarded via the capacity market.  A glimmer of hope emerged at the very end of 2019, when bi-partisan legislation was introduced that would repeal the 2016 bailout awarded Exelon.  We will watch development of this legislation in 2020.

NEIS’ position is that a bailout by any other name will smell as foul, too – and be gouged out of powerless ratepayers.  We will fight against this at every opportunity and by any means.

Climate Crisis – NEIS Updates “You Can’t ‘Nuke’ Global Warming” Program:

Thanks in large part to a generous grant from the LUSH Cosmetics Foundation, NEIS has begun to revise old and develop new informational pieces concerning the reasons why nuclear power is an unacceptable means to deal with the current climate emergency.

NEIS at Student Climate Strike, September 2019

For starts, we’ve retitled the program: “We Can’t ‘Nuke’ Climate Change.”  NEIS made several presentations explaining this using its revised Powerpoint presentation.  Literature was updated and posted to our website.  Lastly, NEIS has almost completed a 10-minute animation that gets this point across in a way that is more understandable to the general public.  It will be premiered in early 2020.

NEIS also participated in all five Student Climate Strike and Extinction Rebellion events dealing with the climate emergency which took place in Chicago in the Fall.

Don’t ‘Rad-waste’ the U.S. – Bad Radioactive Waste Policy Opposed; Alternative Solutions Presented:

NEIS was involved in several major local and national radioactive waste initiatives impacting both Illinois and the nation as a whole:

  • In May NEIS helped plan and promote a second Congressional Briefing for legislators and staff in Washington, D.C. on reactor decommissioning and other related radioactive waste issues.
  • NEIS co-coordinated a national strategic planning effort to develop a long-term strategy for developing environmentally responsible solutions for radioactive waste disposal.
  • NEIS co-coordinated a National Radioactive Waste Summit held in Albuquerque, NM, in November, which dealt with the management, storage, transportation and disposal of high-level radioactive waste. It was attended by over 125 activists from around the U.S. and Japan, nearly half of whom were involved representatives from local front-line communities, Indigenous and people of color communities and organizations, and five activists and presenters from Japan.
  • NEIS produced several short video clips, and one 10-minute animation illustrating the dangers of currently proposed radwaste transport and storage legislation (available on our website).

What’s Ahead in 2020:

There is no doubt that 2020 will be a critical, landmark year for safe-energy issues.  The upcoming election will call attention to the key climate issues, while the Trump administration continues its anachronistic, anti-environmental attempt to save the coal and fossil fuel industry.

NEIS will be:

  • Continuing its fight against further Exelon and nuclear power bailouts, which waste precious time, money and resources better spent on building a renewable energy future;
  • Expanding its efforts to get the message that, “We Can’t ‘Nuke’ Climate Change!” out to policy makers and the public.  Given the IPCC warning from October, 2018, we only have 10 years left to make this clear.  We’ll be working with the Student Strikers, XR and others throughout the year and beyond.
  • Working to implement viable alternative national radioactive waste strategies, confronting the current disingenuous, dangerous and politically expedient legislation that would merely dump the nation’s radwaste problems on Indigenous lands and other communities of color, without really solving them.

This was a long letter.  That was intentional. Thoughtful time-taking consideration and curiosity often separates the chaff from the grain.  If you’re not willing to put in the time to dig deeper to understand complex issues, you’re only going to end up with shallow, uninformed and probably dumb, incorrect positions.  If you’ve come this far, we salute and thank you as someone who both cares about these serious issues beyond reading convenient and often inaccurate headlines and listening to meaningless soundbites.  You are the kind of person we need – the Planet needs! — and welcome and invite you to become part of NEIS efforts in 2020 to protect the environment, usher in a renewable energy future, and make this world a LOT less nuclear.

Thank you for your past interest and support.  We hope it continues.  Be well, do great things!