Nuclear advocates may have applauded Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker two years ago when he signed legislation providing $694 million to three of the state’s struggling nuclear power plants, but they’re hissing him now: On Friday, Pritzker vetoed S.B. 76, a bill that would have lifted the state’s decades-old moratorium on new nuclear power plant construction.
Introduced in January by Sen. Sue Rezin (R., 38th Dist.), S.B. 76 called for deleting language in the Illinois Public Utilities Act that forbids nuclear plant construction in the state until the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency determines that the federal government “has identified and approved a demonstrable technology or means for the disposal of high-level nuclear waste, or until such construction has been specifically approved by a statute enacted by the General Assembly.”
The measure passed the state Senate March 30 in a 39–13 vote. On May 18, it was amended by the House (to require that any new power reactor built in Illinois must be an “advanced reactor,” as defined in federal law) and approved 84–22, then sent back to the Senate for concurrence. The following day, the Senate voted 36–14 (with 3 voting “present”) in favor of the proposed amendment.
The official words: According to a press release from the governor’s office, the legislation was vetoed “because the vague definitions in the bill, including the overly broad definition of advanced reactors, will open the door to the proliferation of large-scale nuclear reactors that are so costly to build that they will cause exorbitant ratepayer-funded bailouts.” In addition, the release stated that S.B. 76 “provides no regulatory protections or updates to address the health and safety of Illinois residents who would live and work around these new reactors.”
Rezin reacts: In her own press release Friday, Rezin responded to Pritzker’s action, saying that he is “clearly putting his own partisan political ambitions over what is in the best interest of the people of Illinois by his sole decision to veto bipartisan legislation to improve Illinois’ future energy portfolio sustainably and cost effectively.” Rezin added that she has already filed paperwork to override the veto “during our upcoming veto session this fall.”