Fossil-funded "clean jobs" groups win battle to kill nuclear in Illinois
legislation that would have prevented the premature closure of two
nuclear plants has been killed by environmental groups and an alliance
of fossil fuel companies.
Reports Tom Kacich at
the Illinois newspaper the News-Gazette “Time has run out," said
[Senator Donnie] Trotter. "I'm disappointed because I saw and heard, by
sitting in those meetings, that there was some movement. It was just
one or two entities — and I'm not going to name them — who I think were
intentionally slowing the process down.”
most important of those entities is ELPC, the Environmental Law and
Policy Center — a non-profit organization that represents itself as
representing the public and environmental interest. ELPC created a
“clean jobs coalition” whose allies include Sierra Club, Natural
Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Environment Illinois, Illinois
Environment Council and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
of those groups support subsidizing wind at 2.3 cents/kWh, but
complained mightily over supporting the continued operation of Illinois'
distressed nuclear plants — until market conditions change — at just 1
something changes, Illinois will go backwards on air pollution, climate
change and green jobs. Exelon is expected to announce it will close
both Clinton and Quad. If that happens, carbon emissions will rise the
equivalent of adding two million cars to the road, and a minimum of
1,400 jobs will be lost.
this year ELPC raised at least $137,500 from natural gas, renewables or
financial companies that would benefit from ELPC’s efforts to kill
nuclear plants. ELPC raised it at its dinner where “recognition from the
podium” was given by groups like Invenergy, a natural gas and wind
company, for investing $10,000 to $25,000 to ELPC.
"Everyone looks with excitement when a new natural gas plant is build," ELPC head, Howard Learner said when justifying his efforts to replace nuclear plants with fossil fuels.
truth, Illinois will suffer a large net job loss because it has so
little natural gas, and most of the jobs in natural gas are in the
production (drilling and fracking) side, not the generation side.
of ELPC’s key allies in killing the legislation is the coal-funded BEST
coalition. Several sources say the energy company NRG has provided
large contributions to BEST to kill nuclear and replace it with coal, in
addition to natural gas.
ELPC raises about $6 million a year while NRDC, Sierra Club, and EDF collectively raise over $250 million yearly.
talking points about subsidies and bail-outs are repeated by everyone,
from Senate Democrats to Illinois’ Attorney General Lisa Madigan to
Crane’s Business columnist, Steve Daniels.
ELPC et al, nor Daniels nor Attorney General Madigan have no problem
with using subsidies to pad the profits of wind developers — including
Exelon, which owns the 8.4 megawatt Agri-Wind farm in Illinois.
got his start in anti-nuclear advocacy in the mid-1980s when he worked
as an attorney suing utilities to block the construction of nuclear
and journalists have made much of corporate funding for efforts to kill
clean energy. Mostly those efforts have focused on the Koch brothers
and Exxon. Fair treatment would require more focus on groups like ELPC
and Sierra Club, which have taken money from natural gas companies while
fighting nuclear energy, America’s largest source of clean, low carbon