Pritzker vetoes new nuclear power plants in Illinois

Pritzker vetoes new nuclear power plants in Illinois
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (Image: YouTube screen grab)

On Friday, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) vetoed a bill that would have lifted Illinois’ moratorium on new nuclear power plants. This may harm the environment, because studies show that nuclear power is best for the environment. The bill Pritzker vetoed, SB76, passed the Illinois legislature with bipartisan support.

It is ironic that Pritzker routinely talks about fighting global warming, because his veto will make it harder to generate enough carbon-free energy that does not produce greenhouse gas emissions. It could also increase the risk of blackouts in the future, because renewable energy does not produce a steady supply of power the way a nuclear power plant does, but the Democrats will not allow fossil fuels such as coal to continue supplying most energy in the future, meaning the choice is either nuclear power, or renewable energy.

As old power plants close, America’s power grid has become increasingly unreliable, according the Wall Street Journal. The U.S. faces the risk of of blackouts in the summer and during winter cold waves. Yet, President Biden has called for getting rid of coal plants, saying, “We’re going to be shutting these plants down all across America.” That could cause blackouts that kill hundreds or even thousands of people, as energy runs short. Blackouts already killed 200 people in 2021, as freezing people were left without power.

Pritzker uses climate change as an excuse for supporting costly, burdensome government regulations, but he does little to actually reduce emissions. Pradeep Shankar says that the opponents of the bill, who claim to care about climate change, are disingenuous, given their opposition to a key source of relatively clean energy: “These people hate the environment. And don’t want to solve global warming.”

The air in Germany is getting dirtier because of a similar mindset. Coal-fired power plants are being turned back on to replace nuclear plants that generated no air pollution, but have been closed down. Nuclear power is best for the environment, notes Reason Magazine’s Ronald Bailey. Yet as he observes, “Germany idiotically shut down its last three nuclear power plants” in April. “Until 2011, the country obtained one-quarter of its electricity from 17 nuclear power plants. Shutting down nuclear plants results in more mining of coal, making it harder to protect “natural landscapes.”

As the Associated Press reported, “On April 15, Germany stopped producing any electricity from nuclear power plants,” a blow to those “who support nuclear energy as a clean, zero-carbon source of electricity”:

A collection of esteemed scientists, including two Nobel laureates and professors from the likes of MIT and Columbia, made a last-minute plea in an open letter published on April 14 on the nuclear advocacy group’s website, RePlaneteers, to keep the reactors operating.

“In view of the threat that climate change poses to life on our planet and the obvious energy crisis in which Germany and Europe find themselves due to the unavailability of Russian natural gas, we call on you to continue operating the last remaining German nuclear power plants,” the letter states.

The Emsland, Isar II and Neckarwestheim II facilities provided more than 10 million German households with electricity, the open letter states. That’s a quarter of the population.

“This is hugely disappointing, when a secure low carbon 24/7 source of energy such as nuclear was available and could have continued operation for another 40 years,” Henry Preston, spokesperson for the World Nuclear Association, told CNBC. “Germany’s nuclear industry has been world class. All three of those reactors shut down at the weekend performed extremely well.”…

Generating electricity with nuclear reactors does not create any greenhouse gases. And as global climate change response efforts continue to fall short of emission targets, nuclear energy is getting renewed consideration.

“Obviously many people in the nuclear industry are disappointed that the government that cares a lot about climate change is shutting massive sources of zero-carbon electric power.”

“This out-phasing of nuclear, with existing plants, leads to an increase of greenhouse gas emissions in Germany.”

As Bailey observes, “Nuclear power massively spares land for nature while producing 24-7 emissions-free electricity. That’s why closing down 17 perfectly good nuclear power plants is environmentally stupid.”

France and Sweden replaced most of their fossil-fueled electricity with nuclear power, and as a result, ended up emitting less than a tenth of the world average of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour.

Unlike wind farms, nuclear power plants don’t kill birds. The biggest utility that generates wind power pleaded guilty to federal crimes for killing 150 eagles.

Nuclear power is the safest form of energy we have, if you consider deaths per megawatt of energy produced,” notes Yale University’s Steven Novella. “Wind turbines, surprisingly, kill more people than nuclear plants,” notes Michael Shellenberger, who was named a “Hero of the Environment” by Time magazine. And “solar panels require 17 times more materials in the form of cement, glass, concrete, and steel than do nuclear plants, and create over 200 times more waste,” such as “dust from toxic heavy metals including lead, cadmium, and chromium.”

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.


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