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Kinzinger Escalates Fight to Save Nuclear in Byron, Dresden

Congressman Calls on Biden Administration to Use Emergency Powers

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Washington, DC, August 23, 2021 | Maura Gillespie (202-225-3635) | comments
Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) sent a letter to President Biden and several of his top administration officials asking them to consider employing emergency powers to save Byron and Dresden stations from closing.
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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, in his continued effort to avoid the closure of Byron and Dresden nuclear generating stations, Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) sent a letter to President Biden and several of his top administration officials asking them to consider employing emergency powers to require Byron and Dresden stations to continue their operations, at least until Springfield or Washington can enact new laws to level the energy playing field and help financially-struggling plants.

After sending the attached letter to the White House today, Congressman Kinzinger released the following statement:

The failure of leadership in Springfield has been astonishing, and has now made the closures of Byron and Dresden imminent. Despite the fact that Congress is finally poised to pass my bipartisan legislation—the Preserving Existing Nuclear Energy Generation Act, which provides a financial credit program to these plants and others—the program would still take time to implement. And while such legislation would be able to help other struggling nuclear plants around the country, it is unlikely to be able to help Byron or Dresden as they are slated to close in the coming weeks.

“This, of course, is a serious problem and one that requires swift action. My constituents and the communities I serve are desperately asking me for help, so I’m pulling out all the stops.

“As laid out in my letter to the President, there are existing legal authorities for the Biden Administration to save these plants from closure. Therefore, I’m making an urgent plea that they employ these powers to keep our plants online. There are plenty of reasons why this is beneficial: for energy independence and resilience, preservation of sufficient non-emitting baseload power, climate preservation, public health, national defense and security, etc. We cannot turn a blind eye to this problem any longer; we have to save our nuclear plants.

“If Springfield lacks the will to save these plants, and if Congress cannot act quickly enough, then it’s time for the President to step in and consider every possible action to support nuclear power in favor of our collective security—including the security of energy resources, the climate, the economy, and the nation.”

The full letter can be found here on the Congressman’s website and attached as a PDF.

BACKGROUND:

Given that decision-making in Springfield played an outsized role in hurting the financial situation of Illinois’ nuclear plants, Congressman Kinzinger has consistently argued that the ideal legislative solution to keep these plants operational should also come from Springfield. However, the Governor and General Assembly deferred legislative negotiations to outside interest groups, who eventually came to a stalemate. But rather than taking control of the negotiations for the good of Illinois, officials in Springfield have jumped right into the blame game, with no end in sight.

Congressman Kinzinger has been sounding the alarm for years about the closures of nuclear plants across the country, and he has been pushing his colleagues in Congress to take legislative action to assist in reversing these trends. The logjam has recently begun to break, as the United States Senate included language in its recently-passed bipartisan infrastructure package to establish a financial credit program at the Department of Energy to avoid closures of plants facing financial woes—language which Kinzinger has championed through similar legislation in the House. But even if this financial credit program is enacted immediately, it would take months to implement and provide relief, while the closure of Byron and Dresden are expected in a matter of weeks.

This letter from Congressman Kinzinger and its stated request were formulated and vetted in consultation with policy experts, including the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS). The two primary statutes available to the Administration are the Defense Production Act and the Federal Power Act—both of which provide emergency powers to compel certain actions of energy providers.

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