Matzie: Bill would create commission to review impact of potential plant closures

Group would study impact of shuttering coal, nuclear electric plants before making closure decisions

HARRISBURG, June 19 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today announced he will introduce legislation that would create a commission to review the potential adverse impacts of deactivating coal and nuclear electric plants before making decisions on whether to close those plants.

Matzie, co-chairman of the House Nuclear Energy Caucus, said the proposed commission would make decisions on deactivations only after hearing from state and local government officials, affected employees, business owners and other stakeholders.

“Over the last several years, we have witnessed the closing of a record number of Pennsylvania-based coal and nuclear electric plants,” Matzie said. “But no entity exists to examine the negative impacts ahead of time. These closings affect local economies, they affect electric reliability and they affect the environment.

“What’s worse, there’s no requirement to give any sort of notice to the workers whose livelihoods are changed forever by the decision to close. We need to have a level of input and oversight. This legislation would provide employee protections such as minimum requirements for severance payments and the continuation of health care benefits. So it is not just industry focused, but worker focused as well.”

Matzie said the proposed legislation also would require the owner of a coal fired plant to remediate the facility and the surrounding area in order to receive approval to deactivate.

At a Nuclear Energy Caucus meeting earlier today, Matzie and other members heard testimony from environmental groups about the critical role Pennsylvania’s nuclear energy facilities play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. You can watch the full meeting here. Testimony from prior meetings has also highlighted the adverse impacts shuttering nuclear plants would have on jobs and the state’s economy.