With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Friday, December 2, 2016

The bailout of Exelon nukes comes right out of the schools

Jobs creators -- 30 years after the nuclear meltdown, the Great Arch at Chernobyl is finally completed.

Natasha Korecki in this morning's IL Playbook: 
It’s probably fitting that the Legislative veto session concluded Thursday with just about everyone going nuclear. Gov. Bruce Rauner dropped the first bomb by vetoing a Chicago Public Schools bill that blows a $215 million hole into the school’s budget... Then there were the actual nukes. A bitterly divisive Legislature came together to pass a massive bailout of two unprofitable nuclear plants...
Almost the exact amount...
The measure provides Exelon with $235 million a year as a reward for the carbon-free energy its nuclear reactors produce — a prize Exelon argued it was just as entitled to as the "clean" energy producing wind and solar industries. Without the money — financed by an increase in electric rates — the company threatened to close nuclear plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities.
Yes, "carbon-free." Tell it to the people of Fukushima, Chernobyl, or Three Mile Island.  Yes, a taxpayer bailout for nuclear giant Exelon, who raked in $29.45B in revenue last year. Yes, another assault on teacher pension funds.

CPS Board Pres. Frank Clark.
So there you have it. An even swap. Nukes for schools. A win-win for former Exelon CEO Frank Clark who now is president of Chicago's Board of Education and even has a privately-run Noble charter school named after him, as does current Exelon CEO, John Rowe, and Rauner himself.

I'm sure Democrats in the Legislature and environmental lobbyists believe they did the best they could. I might agree with them on the school budget. This was the work of our Trumpian governor and his fellow Republicans, buoyed up by Trump's victory last month. And Dems no longer have a veto-proof majority in Springfield (not that Boss Madigan was ever strong enough to use it when they did).

I'm sure IL Dems (even the progressives) will tell us that rates would have gone up or that they saved some jobs that would have been lost if they voted NO. That's questionable. Nuke plant closings are labor-intensive and take years. But giant taxpayer bailouts of unprofitable nukes (like private prisons) are not a solution to structural unemployment. The towns around the nukes all suffer from high unemployment and Exelon doesn't hire many unskilled workers. DeWitt County and Quad Cities unemployment remains higher than the national average despite the presence of the nuke plants. Maybe that's because of massive cuts to school budgets and the laying off of thousands of teachers and school staff and social workers statewide. There's also no guarantee that these plants will stay open long after the bailout or that layoffs won't happen.

I'm sure Dems and even some environmental groups like the People's Lobby, will say that I don't understand realpolitik and will explain how they managed to finagle millions in green money into the bill for wind and solar R&D and that nukes are cleaner than coal. I guess that's an example of the kind of choices we're faced with these days. A touch of green in exchange for corporate bailouts of potentially devastating nukes and lung-choking, cancerous coal companies (now supported by the Trumpians). Look at this as a follow-up to the Trump scam in IN with Carrier and United Technologies.

Democrats nationally have long been complicit is this charade. It was Pres. Obama who, in 2013, made G.E. Chairman Jeffery Immelt, a Republican, his top outside economic adviser as head of the now-defunct Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. G.E., the largest corporation in the U.S., a giant in the nuke industry, and a company that rakes in about $15 billion/yr., yet pays not a penny in U.S. taxes. They're also a big underwriter of corporate-style school reform. Funny how things work out that way.

It's lose-lose for the people of IL, especially children and parents of CPS and the rest of us living downwind from the leaky and dilapidated nukes.

WHERE IS THE HUMAN SERVICES BAILOUT? -- The National Association of Social Workers released this statement: “We commend the hard work put into the bailout for a corporation who posted a 2.27 billion profit last year, but humbly ask where is the bailout for the human service sector providers who are running up large amounts of debt to cover the state’s commitments? … We applaud the environmental groups who are getting entirely new spending on green initiatives through a ComEd rate increase, but inquire from the general assembly where is the bailout to pay for the spending for contracts that human service providers have already delivered on?”

I would add -- and for schools?


  1. I agree a lot regarding what you are saying. But I don't think it was an issue of this money going to schools versus the bill because they come from completely different revenue streams and the governor did not make his horrendous decisions based on that bill. What he did is nothing new and until he is out, it will continue to get worse.

    But the main reason why my organization One Northside, and I voted for it is because of the election of Trump. In the old days Exelon/ComEd could just call the shots as well as coal. The difference is that we have a little problem with the environment and there is money to be made and thousands of jobs to be created by moving into a labor intensive green economy. Ask SEIU about the jobs that will be created from spending $200 million a year on solar and wind.

    And We put in $500 million for low income solar which means lower, cleaner energy will be finally available for low income and the working poor. It is not a given for sure that without this language that people other than the upper middle class, wealthy residents and businesses would benefit. This was not Exelon's idea!!

    To ensure local job creation, we fought for language that mandates that these new green requirements can't be met by purchasing it out of state but rather they will have to be built, administered and maintained locally w guarantees of job training for these jobs w targeting of the candidates being from low income communities. in fact a certain percentage have from formerly incarcerated residents and youth aging out of DCFS.

    The amount of money for energy efficiency will be doubled. As energy demand is increasing, energy scarcity is growing so that for many households energy has become a bigger burden than the cost of rent. As you know, even seniors are often going without heat. Renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuel energy and energy efficiency reduces demand so in end, bills will go down even w bailouts do energy scarcity will be reduced.

    But more importantly w this growth, Exelon and ComEd will never be able to say again that with closing a nuclear power plant, there won't be enough energy in Illinois because as with coal now, it just won't be true cause of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
    But even with all of those gains, if Trump had not been elected, we might have been voted differently. But the risk of waiting until Rauner funds CPS and as well as a decent budget as Trump is embedded in office and eliminating renewable energy policies and laws, these wins most likely will not be possible.

    But for the record, I have never been a fan of nuclear energy-extremely dangerous and no way to store the waste. I also am not a fan of corporate welfare so bitter pills were swallowed. but since many of us are doing this work I for our grandkids and 7 generations to come, we should no longer be living in a state that gets 90% of its energy from coal, nuclear and natural gas. That is where are at now in Illinois.
    So we have to agree to disagree

    1. Diane Fager wrote: "But the main reason why my organization One Northside, and I voted for it is because of the election of Trump."

      Of all the reasons for supporting a corporate bailout (especially of the nuke industry), this is the wackiest I've ever heard. Trump's election should be met with just the opposite response. Resistance, not capitulation.

      Also Diane, since when do you and One Northside get a vote on this? Are you a legislator?

  2. From Fred Klonsky's blog:
    "Resisting Trumpism is going to be difficult but all the more necessary at a time when union leaders and Democrats are saying we should give Trump a chance and corporate bailouts are called wins by even progressive legislators."

  3. Exelon/ComEd have the best lobbyists in the state. Too bad the folks who provide services for the needy, the sick, the young, and the old cannot afford to hire these lobbyists. Nothing like giving more wealth to the wealthy and taking more money from those who have little to give. Where is Charles Dickens when you need him? What a book (or a series of books) he could write about the politics of the day.

  4. Let's talk about the 10,000 retired city employees losing all health care benefits as of Dec. 31, 2016. What is wrong with the rahmmonster???? Where are they going to get health insurance? Where is the promised support from the city? Why isn't this on the front page of every newspaper in this city? Oh, of course. No journalists are left in Chicago. They are too busy glad handing the pols to be bothered with retired city workers who are being left out to dry.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.