A bipartisan bill, with support from a wide range of industries and interests, which will secure nuclear power as a bridge to renewable energy solutions for the state, has been drafted and is working its way through the Illinois Senate and House.

The expectation is that a version of this bill, called the Climate Union Jobs Act (CUJA), could be passed in the coming weeks — and so, the Byron Station Response Committee (BSRC) is calling on the public’s help to generate support and passage of this legislation. 

Byron #226 Superintendent Buster Barton emphasized that the development of the legislation itself does not guarantee that the Byron and Dresden plants will remain open.

“I’m not sure people fully understand the reality that these plants really can close; it can still happen. They’ve announced the September 2021 timeline, so we need to focus and take action now.” The BSRC is hopeful the public will advocate for this new legislation, which would result in keeping the plants in Byron and Dresden operational, as well as safeguard the LaSalle and Braidwood plants.

The BSRC supports the Climate Union Jobs Act (CUJA), which is sponsored by Illinois Representatives Lawrence Walsh Jr. (D-Joliet) and David Welter (R-Morris), as well as Senators Sue Rezin (R-Morris) and Michael Hastings (D-Frankfort).

Broadly, the legislation aims to preserve the state’s nuclear fleet and expand renewable generation, sets labor standards when ratepayer dollars are used, returns to traditional ratemaking, creates a transition plan for communities economically reliant on fossil fuel generation, establishes equity requirements for clean energy jobs, and increases the diversity of the renewable energy sector with new reporting requirements, to name just a few.

The BSRC has been looking for a solution that would sustain the incredibly reliable and carbon-free electricity Illinois residents have come to enjoy because of its established and proven nuclear fleet, while at the same time addressing the need to build out renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

Now, the group maintains, it’s time to inform and direct supporters to take action so that CUJA can pass in this legislative session.

First up, the BSRC is encouraging residents across the entire state to please complete Witness Slips, which are used as tools by organizations to engage in the legislative advocacy process.

Witness Slips are important as bills are debated and voted upon in committees. In the past, they were actually half-sheets of paper that staff would read aloud when the bill was debated, calling out the opponents and proponents so the legislators knew how their constituents stood on the issue.

But advocates were required to be physically present in order to complete a slip or know someone who would be in Springfield to submit one for them.

All that changed with the internet and so the BSRC is urging all supporters to complete their Witness Slips online, clicking the box “proponent” for both House Bill 1472 (also referred to as HB1472) and Senate Bill 1100 (also referred to as SB1100). 

The BSRC website, www.saveilnuclearpower.com has easy-to-use links to these Witness Slip forms, as well as additional information on the bill and the groups supporting it.

Because situations can change quickly in the legislative session, the group is urging all supporters to sign up for emails from the website and is asking them to check the website frequently for updates.

Witness Slips are a first step, but the group expects to move on to letter writing campaigns and telephone call banks. The group’s website has resources regarding handwritten letters of support, proposed telephone scripts for those who would rather call, and a complete list of the addresses and phone numbers of lawmakers who serve on the House and Senate Committees debating the proposed bill. 

Anyone who wants to support this legislation and work to keep the Byron and Dresden plants open is encouraged to visit the groups’ website, www.saveilnuclearpower.com. The BSRC hopes with this kind of support and advocacy, the legislation can pass — securing the future of the Byron and Dresden plants, while creating a sustainable and forward-looking energy plan with good jobs for the state, and a reliable energy plan for consumers.

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