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Kinzinger Defends Nuclear Power, Diverse Energy at Hearing

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Washington, April 20, 2021 | Maura Gillespie (202-225-3635) | comments
Today, Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) participated in a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce’s Energy Subcommittee in which he offered a full-throated but thoughtful case for preserving nuclear power.
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Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) participated in a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce’s Energy Subcommittee in which he offered a full-throated but thoughtful case for preserving nuclear power in Illinois and across the country. As a vocal advocate for nuclear power, Congressman Kinzinger also called for a diverse energy strategy and utilizing the abundant clean, reliable, affordable energy sources—like nuclear—that we have here at home.

Below are Congressman Kinzinger’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

“I thank the Chair, and I agree there is disparity in energy costs that we should debate and address in a responsible manner. I have consistently supported a true ‘all-of-the-above’ energy approach. I understand the fundamental importance of preserving our resources and natural heritage, and agree that the consideration of environmental impacts is essential to energy policymaking.  I have a record demonstrating support for renewable energy technologies, and expect their use to expand over time.

“But the United States simply cannot afford to continue pushing a ‘renewables-only’ energy strategy to the detriment of abundant and reliable baseload sources, including nuclear and natural gas.  My colleagues and I sent a letter to President Biden in February stating as much, and asking him to work with us to calibrate our national energy strategy.”

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“According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, nuclear power generates 20% of the America’s electricity and, in 2018, it prevented the emission of 528 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.  In Illinois, six nuclear power stations—including four in the 16th District—provide 88% of the state’s emission-free electricity.  Unfortunately, due to non-market government forces giving preferential treatment to certain renewables, two of these plants—Byron and Dresden—are now slated for closure.

“When I visit schools in Byron or talk to control room operators and engineers at Dresden, I’m able to see the incredible impacts and legacy of this technology. These two plants represent 1,500 direct jobs and millions of dollars in municipal revenues.  If these plants shutter, the lost revenue would devastate my communities and make it extremely difficult to pay for high quality schools, hospitals, emergency personnel, and other critical services.  All this, not to mention the prospect of blackouts, unreliable electricity costs, increased carbon emissions, and job losses.

“Preserving the existing nuclear fleet will take a concerted national approach, but I am doing what I can for my part.  In December, my colleague, Mike Doyle, and I introduced the Preserving Existing Nuclear Energy Generation Act, which would help save nuclear plants that are on the chopping block—including Byron and Dresden—by providing financial credits through an Emissions Avoidance Program.   The bill would also soften the blow to local communities by providing resources to help shore up municipal budgetary shortfalls, preserve critical services, and promote economic development.  And last week, I re-introduced the Nuclear Licensing Efficiency Act, which builds upon the recent efforts by Congress to modernize nuclear fees and licensing procedures.

“To bring this home: Yes, there are disparities in utility costs for households across the nation.  These disparities can be seen across racial and ethnic lines, and in geographical terms, including the rural-urban divide.  But the answer is not to simply put solar panels on the rooftops of lower-income households, wipe our hands, and walk away.  And the answer cannot be heavy-handed intervention to artificially reduce utility prices without regard to market forces.”

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“As my colleagues and I said in our letter to the President, it is long past time that elected officials, pundits, business organizations, and environmental lobbyists put down their pitchforks and come to the table to have an honest discussion about the future of America’s energy strategy.  Many have already done so, but a handful of influential partisans have become the loudest voices on these matters, stoking fear and talking past one another as each perpetuates a ‘my way, or the highway’ approach to issues that, at their core, require thoughtful debate and compromise.

“I hope that this Committee can again be the voice of reason and a beacon of congressional bipartisanship when it comes to finding the appropriate balance of solutions—just as we have in the past.  I thank the Chair, and with that, I yield back.”

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Tags: Energy

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