Still Time to Save Nuclear in Illinois & California — But We Must Act Now

Statement from EP President Michael Shellenberger

Exelon's announcement that it will close Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants is just the latest indication that we are in a clean energy emergency. If Quad and Clinton are closed, Illinois will lose one-quarter of all its clean energy, over 1,500 jobs, and its standing as a clean energy leader.

If we lose all 13 nuclear plants at high-risk of closing in the next two years, we will wipe out three times the solar electricity we generated in 2015. If we lose all plants at risk of closing before 2030 we will wipe out 43 percent of the emissions reductions in President Obama's Clean Power Plan. 

Nuclear plants are in trouble everywhere for the same reason. People believe that nuclear energy is something it is not, and cannot see it for what it is. Nuclear is our safest way of generating electricity, and our only reliable clean energy source. Many of our nuclear plants can operate for another 20, 30 and even 50 years. But many people have come to believe the opposite.  

The result is that nuclear suffers from double discrimination. Nuclear plants are excluded from the federal subsidies and state mandates for solar and wind, either of which would be more than enough to protect nuclear energy .  

It is not too late to save Quad and Clinton. But will require that moderate environmental groups show courage and break from the dogmatically anti-nuclear groups that openly say they want to replace nuclear plants with natural gas. 

Saving Quad and Clinton will cost less than half the cost of the federal wind subsidy, and will protect Illinois rate-payers from future price shocks when natural gas prices, today at a historic low, go up.

What happens next will reveal whether Environmental Defense Fund, NRDC and Sierra Club care more about addressing climate change than continuing with their counterproductive and outmoded effort to dismantle our largest source of clean power. 

We also urge President Obama, Congress and the Department of Energy to take swift action. Talk is not enough. Protecting clean energy and the climate will require real world actions. 

And we urge true environmentalists who support all clean energy sources to take action, and especially participate in the Rally and March for Environmental Hope! this June 24 - 28. We can still save our largest source of clean energy — but it will require real-world action.