(The Center Square) – With the fall veto session about to begin in Illinois, the state’s nuclear power construction moratorium hangs in the balance.
The moratorium has been in place for decades and was implemented until a permanent waste storage option was made available.
Gov. J.B, Pritzker vetoed a bill that would have lifted the moratorium on nuclear power construction. He has said he is in favor of Small Modular Reactors, or SMRs, but says the legislation was changed at the last minute.
“It was focused in part on allowing large scale nuclear plants to be built in Illinois and that’s not what the bill was originally intended to be about,” Pritzker said at a recent event.
State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, introduced the bill because she said other states, including Illinois neighbor Indiana, have recognized just how “arbitrary and archaic these types of bans are and moved to remove them.”
“The bill initially passed with super majorities in the Senate and in the House, which should have sent a message to the governor that the majority of senators and state reps supported the bill,” Rezin said following the governor’s veto.
To override a veto, it takes a three-fifths vote in both chambers.
Rezin has since filed a new piece of legislation that she said addresses the concerns of the governor and will allow Illinois to fully embrace new nuclear energy technologies, like SMRs.
The idea of Small Modular Reactors was born following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan. SMRs are smaller than conventional nuclear reactors, and can be constructed at one location and then shipped and operated at a separate site.
Illinois currently has six full-scale nuclear power stations, in Braidwood, Byron, Clinton, Dresden, LaSalle and the Quad Cities.
The fall veto session begins in Springfield Tuesday.