Opponents of nuclear industry subsidy urge Gov. Murphy to veto bill

Groups urge New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to veto a nuclear subsidy bill. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Groups urge New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to veto a nuclear subsidy bill. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has until the end of the month to decide whether to sign a controversial bill to subsidize nuclear power plants. A coalition of environmental, community, and business groups is urging his conditional veto of the measure.

The bill is “wrong headed,” said Doug O’Malley, Environment New Jersey director. “It’s going to commit $300 million a year for an unlimited time period to an aging nuclear fleet with a lack of true financial transparency.

“There’s nothing in this legislation that guarantees that subsidies will be restricted to just New Jersey facilities,” he said. “These subsidies could easily go to out-of-state facilities in Pennsylvania.”

The subsidies could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of increased electricity costs for manufacturers already struggling to stay in the state, according to Dennis Hart with the Chemistry Council. The legislation does not have guarantees to protect taxpayers, he said.

“There’s no guarantees that PSE&G will open their books. There’s no public process to have the public’s representative look at their books,” he said. “There’s no definition of cost. There’s no definition of expenses. There’s no definition of profit.  There’s nothing but give PSE&G $300 million, and they say if they don’t need it, they won’t take it.”

Without the subsidies, PSE&G said it might have to close its three nuclear plants in South Jersey.

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel has urged Murphy to amend the bill.

“To have more openness and transparency. To actually have them prove need before they go forward with the subsidy,” Tittel said. “That there’s provisions in case they are making extra money that there’s a clawback provision.”

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