Tuesday, February 6, 2018

PSEG nuclear subsidy bill encounters more resistance

PSEG Nuclear's Salem Creek nuclear power plant

By Frank Brill

EnviroPolitics Editor

If you wondered why New Jersey's largest utility, Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG), risked the criticism it received for trying to slip its big, nuclear bail-out bill through the state legislature during he waning days of the recent lame duck session, now you know. The more exposure the bill receives, the harder it is to pass.

Environmentalists and large-power users like chemical manufacturers rebelled against the legislation even before it was introduced. They knew that Senate President Steve Sweeney, the bill's prime sponsor, would try to rush the high-cost measure through in the final days of the recently concluded session, when a glut of bills would be up for votes and attention spans would be short.   

That strategy likely would have worked had incoming Gov. Phil Murphy not started to suggest changes including concessions to environmentalists. 

The bill stalled, was re-worked for the new session--and has been changed again since its reintroduction. But the opposition continues to grow and the measure was pulled from a committee agenda yesterday.     

"Every time this nuclear subsidy bill is held or discussed in a meeting, it gets worse,'' said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "Each day it gets worse and more expensive.''

Prediction: Considering the combined political power of the senate president and PSEG, the bill will be back in committee soon and eventually will end up on Gov. Murphy's desk. 

Tom Johnson, who has been covering the story from the beginning, has the latest today in NJSpotlight: Still a work in progress, nuclear subsidy bill held in committee

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