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“Moral Imperative” To Fight Climate Change Drove Nuke Bailout

Way Beyond Cynicism

Given the overwhelming scientific consensus that fossil-fuel use is causing potentially irreversible global climate change and the attendant environmental catastrophes, it is a moral imperative that the State invest in energy infrastructure within and outside the State that does not produce greenhouse gases. ~~~ Nuke bailout law, P.L. 2018, c.16

Who knew?

But that’s not all.

You see, our Good Governor and the noble Legislature – and let’s not forget Corporate PSEG, who has poisoned NJ’s air quality and wrecked the climate with decades of carbon power plant pollution – also were morally moved by the deep injustice and plight of poor, mostly black, people locked in NJ’s highly segregated cities:

Poor air quality has a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable citizens of New Jersey including children, the elderly, and people living in poverty.  Fossil-fuel power plants drive increases in pollutants like ground-level ozone, which aggravates respiratory illnesses for individuals with decreased lung function.  Public health and environmental justice necessitate a reduction in these pollutants to protect the most vulnerable of our citizenry.

"Money Island" - PSEG nuke's address

“Money Island” – PSEG nuke’s address

Despite a longtime career in NJ environmental politics, I must admit that I really had no idea just how cynical – no, diabolical – the Legislative sponsors and Gov. Murphy could be when I wrote a post tiled “Nuclear Cynicism” months back when the bailout ploy was becoming obvious.

But I wrote that post before having read the billion dollar nuclear bailout bill Gov. Murphy just signed – hit the links and look at all the moral, brave, and caring sponsors! (S2313 and A3724).

Here’s the vote roll call in the Senate, look at all the brave YES votes – only 9 Senators could stand up and say NO.

The cowards in the Assembly passed the bill by a voice vote, so there’s no roll call vote (It was unanimous! Bailing out nukes on the backs of NJ’s poor is now a motherhood and apple pie “moral imperative” worthy of a unanimous consensus!)

I’m now surprised that they didn’t cite Pope Francis’ encyclical “Care for Our Common Home” (the gas pipeline whores came close to that).

Please don’t blame me for being bitter – I’ve often written of a “moral imperative” to act on climate (e.g. see this and this and this and this and this and this and this).

Don’t let it bring you down,

It’s only castles burning ~~~ Neil Young

Each and every one of those efforts were completely ignored by policymakers and the press, including most of our so called environmental colleagues.

I even manufactured “fake news” to get the gravity of the concern out into the mainstream policy debate:

Chairman Lohbauer issued the following statement:

Mark Lohbauer, Chairman, Pinelands Commission

The recent release of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Care for Our Common Home” followed by his US visit, brought home the moral imperative to act to respond to the climate crisis.

The ongoing Paris COP21 climate treaty negotiations has focused the world’s attention on the climate crisis.

The Pinelands Commission, as an institution of the world with a public mission, understands the scientific and moral imperatives to act.

But lets get back to the nuke bailout bill itself.

Prior to its passage and signature of Gov. Murphy, NJ Spotlight exposed the fact that the bailout would include out of state nuke plants, see:

One would think that such a disclosure would kill the bill. One would be wrong.

Critics of the bailout had raised that issue during legislative deliberations, but were ignored by Legislators and the media, while PSEG failed to disclose that fact:

“It’s been well-known for months that PSEG’s nuclear bailout bill would send money to generators outside of New Jersey, yet only now has the company conceded this could be true,’’ said Matt Fossen, spokesman for the New Jersey Coalition for Fair Energy, a group of rival energy companies and the Electric Power Supply Association.

Acknowledging the truth

“It’s incredibly rich that PSEG would deflect this point at every turn, just to acknowledge the truth yesterday — well after the proposal has gone through its main debate and deliberation,’’ he added.

But left out of the “truth” and faux outrage over how PSEG basically lied to the Legislature by omission, was what should have been outrage over HOW PSEG ultimately outed the truth.

While PSEG failed to disclose this fact to NJ Legislators or media, they had no problem disclosing it to Wall Street shareholders and investors:

In a quarterly earnings call with analysts Monday, Izzo acknowledged out-of-state nuclear units would be eligible to receive the subsidies, a point critics of the bill occasionally made during the months-long debate on the legislation. They were largely ignored.

Repeat: PSEG disclosed a key fact they withheld from NJ Legislators  “In a quarterly earnings call with analysts”.

That puts Wall Street’s bottom line in a superior position to Democracy. PSEG is more accountable to Wall Street than Legislative power.

Stunningly, no one objected to this corporate subversion of Democracy.

And to top it all off, after Gov. Murphy signed the billion dollar bailout bill into law, the PJM held their annual “capacity auction”.

NJ Spotlight reported that PSEG nuke plants “cleared” the PJM auction:

They also had implications in New Jersey, where Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday signed legislation that could direct up to $300 million in annual ratepayer subsidies to nuclear units operated by the Public Service Enterprise Group in South Jersey. Without the subsidies, PSEG had threatened to close the plants.

As it turned out, PSEG bid the units into the auction, and all cleared, meaning they will receive capacity payments in 2021 to provide power to the grid when the market demands it.

But what NJ Spotlight failed to make clear in its vague allusions to “implications”, was a fundamental point: the fact that the PSEG nuke plants “cleared” the PJM auction means that they are competitive and profitable and therefore DID NOT NEED THE MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR BAILOUT GOVERNOR MURPHY JUST SIGNED.

Spotlight’s failure to make this essential point clear was no accident – it would have shamed PSEG and made Senate President Sweeney and Gov. Murphy either corporate whores or dupes.

Jeff Tittel of Sierra Club had issued a press release to them, in which he called the bailout a “sham”, and made the following point right up front and many times:

“Yesterday was a Banner Day for PSEG at the expense of the taxpayers; not only did they get a subsidy, but they got a windfall from the PJS (sic) auction. This shows that they never needed the subsidy since the plants will be profitable for at least five more years on their own. We had called for an analysis with PSEG opening their books and didn’t get it. This is because if we had known they were doing so well, they might not have gotten the subsidy. There was no analysis and the billion-dollar subsidy was signed off.

We said all along that they would clear auction and didn’t need the subsidy and we were correct. The plants aren’t going to close and will be selling power for money in the next for years, making money. This shows they didn’t need the subsidy.”

Spotlight ignored that valid criticism.

But they managed to print what must be the most cynical understatement of all time, a quote by a Wall Street analyst who whitewashed the diabolical corruption like this:

Partnering with utilities

“The Murphy administration seems to be partnering with the state’s utilities to advance its environmental agenda,’’ said Paul Patterson, an energy analyst with Glenrock Associates in New York City. “That could be good news for the utilities.’’

Partnership and moral imperative my ass.

This was straight up corporate blackmail by PSEG and political cowardice and corruption.

[End note of disgust: take a look at the photos in this post from Salem, NJ, neighbor to the PSEG nuke plants – look hard. Take a look at the “environmental justice” that Senate President Sweeney, Gov. Murphy, and NJ US Senator Booker ignore and cry crocodile tears for.]



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