Measure to lift moratorium on nuclear power in Illinois one step away from Pritzker’s desk

(The Center Square) ā€“ New nuclear power plants could be once again utilized in the Land of Lincoln through a measure that is one step away from the governor’s desk.

The Illinois House recently amended a bill that seeks to end the nuclear energy moratorium. The legislation now needs approval from the Senate before being sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Senate Bill 76, if concurred by the Senate and signed by Pritzker, would delete language in state statute that says no construction shall commence on any new nuclear power plant located within the state. The legislation also gives energy companies an option to invest in the construction of traditional, large nuclear reactors or new, small modular reactors.

State Rep. Martin McLaughlin, R-Barrington Hills, said this is the best avenue for clean energy in Illinois.

“We have for far too long in this state ignored the only clean green energy that will get us to where we need to be from a capacity perspective,” McLaughlin said. “So I am absolutely thrilled that you are bringing this forward.”

In April, Pritzker was asked about the measure to lift the moratorium and said he is open to the idea if done correctly.

“Banning nuclear entirely in a world where it becomes much safer, things are smaller, less prone to an accident, more likely for us to be able to maintain them for a long time. That is something worth consideration,” Pritzker said. “The devil’s in the details and we want to make sure we are not just opening this up to nuclear everywhere or every type of nuclear.”

State Rep. Joyce Mason, D-Gurnee, urged a no vote on the bill claiming there are too many risks involved with its implementation.

“We have no plan for disposal,” Mason said. “We require pet owners to pick up after their pets when they leave waste behind but we are not requiring the same of nuclear providers. The Sierra Club opposes this and the Illinois Environmental Council opposes this and I ask that we all consider the long-term implications.”

State Rep. Lance Yednock, D-Ottawa, spoke in favor of the legislation and said there is still time to address any issues.

“We are a long way away from this happening, but you have to plan for it now to start thinking about what we may need in the future, which is going to be a lot more carbon-free energy that can be produced carbon-free from advanced nuclear reactors,” Yednock said.

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