Apr 16, 2019

A legal bright spot for nuclear power

The Exelon Byron Nuclear Generating Station in Illinois. Photo: Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

The Supreme Court yesterday declined to take up challenges to appellate rulings that upheld state subsidies in Illinois and New York aimed at keeping nuclear plants from shutting down.

Why it matters: A number of climate advocates fear that allowing substantial amounts of nuclear generation — which is facing stiff market pressures — to go offline will be a major setback.

  • The decision not to hear the cases is also important because some other states have crafted or are weighing plans to preserve their nuclear generation.

What's happening: Here's Utility Dive on the high court's refusal to hear the challenges to so-called zero emissions credits programs in 2 states...

  • "Since New York and Illinois approved their nuclear supports in 2016 and 2017, respectively, Connecticut and New Jersey have enacted programs to preserve the generators threatened with early retirement because of competition from natural gas and renewables."
  • Lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Ohio are weighing nuclear subsidies as well, they note.

What they're saying: The rejection of the petition to review the appellate rulings affirms that "states have broad legal authority to enact programs that pay clean energy generators for their production of zero-emission energy," Harvard electricity law expert Ari Peskoe said in comments circulated to reporters.

Go deeper: Trump striking out on coal and nuclear energy

Go deeper

In photos: How coronavirus is impacting cities around the world

Revellers take part in the "Plague Doctors Procession" in Venice on Tuesday night during the usual period of the Carnival festivities, most of which have been cancelled following the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has spread from China to infect people in more than 40 countries and territories around the world, killing over 2,700 people.

The big picture: Most of the 80,000 COVID-19 infections have occurred in mainland China. But cases are starting to surge elsewhere. By Wednesday morning, the worst affected countries outside China were South Korea (1,146), where a U.S. soldier tested positive to the virus, Italy (332), Japan (170), Iran (95) and Singapore (91). Just Tuesday, new cases were confirmed in Switzerland, Croatia and Algeria.

See photosArrow2 hours ago - World

Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

4 takeaways from the South Carolina debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, makes a point during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders listens. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 10th Democratic debate was billed as the most consequential of the primary thus far, but Tuesday night's high-stakes affair was at times awkward and unfocused as moderators struggled to rein in candidates desperate to make one last splash before Saturday's primary in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

The big picture: After cementing himself as the Democratic favorite with a sweeping win in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire as the front-runner for the first time on the debate stage. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next Tuesday, was a progressive foil once again, but he appeared more prepared after taking a drubbing at the Nevada debate.