Carbon Free, Nuclear Free opposes Clean Energy Jobs Act

The new version (or substitute amendment) of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (AB649 / SB450) has been unveiled. The text is online here (PDF) and the Legislative Council's analysis of how it differs from the original bill and current law is available here (PDF).

The Carbon Free, Nuclear Free Wisconsin coalition, comprised of statewide organizations and grassroots groups from around the state, opposes the bill, as explained in its April 14 statement, below.

Please also see our action alert on how you can help keep our nuclear safeguards intact!

We are extremely disappointed that the new version of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (AB649 / SB450) unveiled Tuesday continues to pretend that nuclear power is "clean energy." The bill also gives the false impression that building new nuclear reactors could help avoid the serious dangers posed by global warming, when many independent experts and reports agree it is a risky and costly distraction from real solutions.

It looks as though the utility and nuclear industry lobbyists held sway during the weeks of closed-door negotiations in the state Capitol. As a result, Wisconsin stands to lose the common-sense restrictions on new nuclear reactors that have helped protect our communities and ratepayers for decades.

Legislators did not even see fit to include language that would have required the radioactive nuclear waste to be "sufficiently secure that foreseeable terrorist attacks would not cause severe economic disruption or casualties," as our coalition suggested.

For these reasons -- and because the renewable energy and energy efficiency policies in the bill have been significantly weakened -- we now oppose the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Wisconsin deserves and needs better, to create green jobs and a truly clean energy future.

If the bill does become law -- which is far from certain -- Wisconsin residents must be protected from the environmental, public health and financial dangers posed by new nuclear reactors.

Legislators must block any attempts to allow "construction work in progress" (CWIP) financing of nuclear reactors in Wisconsin. This costly but common financing method allows utilities building nuclear reactors to charge ratepayers in advance, raising energy costs years or even decades before any electricity is produced -- if it ever is. Utilities using CWIP make no commitment to produce electricity, much less to do so at a reasonable price. Failing to prohibit CWIP for nuclear reactors would endanger ratepayers and lead to business and citizen distress and resistance, as is happening in Florida.

In addition, the Public Service Commission must closely examine proposed plans for the management of radioactive nuclear waste, as the toxic material will remain in Wisconsin for decades, if not longer.

Wisconsin can avoid these problems -- while continuing to work towards strong energy efficiency and renewable energy policies -- by rejecting the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Our coalition urges state legislators to do so.

Carbon Free, Nuclear Free Wisconsin coalition members are: Artha Sustainable Living Center (Amherst), Coulee Region Progressives (La Crosse), Down River Alliance (La Crosse), Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (Racine), Nukewatch (Luck), Peace Action Wisconsin (Milwaukee), Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin (Madison), Wisconsin Network for Peace & Justice (Madison)