Saturday, April 14, 2018

NJ lawmakers quietly pass two cantankerous enviro bills

NJ Dome with puffy clouds in backgrouind
By Frank Brill
EnviroPolitics Editor

"Not with a bang but a whimper" (The Hollow Men,T.S. Eliot )

After months of sustained criticism at public hearings, in newspaper editorials, and in radio and social-media ads, legislation to hand PSEG an annual $300 million public gift to keep their utility profits stable--and a separate bill boosting clean energy (at an uncertain taxpayer cost)--both  cleared the New Jersey Senate and Assembly on April 12 with hardly a peep. They now await Governor Phil Murphy's approval, amendment or veto.

Tom Johnson reports in NJ Spotlight and Michael Sol Warren in on the legislation's background and passage.

PSEG’s case for the subsidy pales in comparison to the legislation's deficiencies. Star-Ledger editor Tom Moran lines them up in: Will Murphy save us from PSEG's outrageous nuke subsidy?

After reading Moran's piece, you wonder how such lame legislation got through both houses with relative ease?

Two reasons:
1. The prime bill sponsor is Steve Sweeney who, as Senate President, controls what legislation comes up for votes in the upper house. If you're a lawmaker who ever hopes to have one of your bills passed, you'd damn well better vote for the Senate President's bills.    

2. PSEG is a political powerhouse.

  • The company has top-notch executives who understand New Jersey politics and strive to maintain a positive public image.
  • They build and maintain a solid energy infrastructure and train employees to keep your lights on during storms or to restore power promptly after an outage.
  • They respond to legislators and to local officials whose constituents have utility-related gripes.
  • They support a host of community events and place brand-awareness ads in dozens of publications and with media outlets like NJTV News.
  • Unlike many energy utility companies across the country, they take a progressive stance, advocating for solar and offshore wind energy and for conservation, too.
  • But when their stock price is threatened, PSEG can forsake the good-guy image and order their internal and external lobbyists to do bare-knuckled combat in the legislative trenches. And, by the way, they never lose.  
NJ Senate, Assembly passes nuclear subsidy bill (Reuters)
Will FERC charge slow the progress of PSEG's bailout bill? (EnviroPolitics)
In New Jersey, the $300M PSEG nuclear bailout bill is back
(Enviro Politics)
PSEG twists arms to get its shameless nuke subsidy (Moran)
PSEG says it will close its nuclear power plants unless lawmakers agree to raise bills (The Record)
New industry-led coalition fights nuclear subsidies to PSEG (EnviroPolitics)

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