Illinois is up against what one observer calls a “nuclear hostage crisis”: The energy company Exelon says it will close two struggling nuclear power plants unless the state provides subsidies. If this sounds familiar, it’s because something very similar happened in Illinois about five years ago, leading to a 2016 state law that subsidized two other Exelon nuclear plants in the state—a law now tainted by a still-unfolding bribery scandal. Despite all the reasons to tell Exelon to take a hike, some consumer and environmental advocates say there is a strong case for keeping the plants open because they are an important source of carbon-free electricity. This ties into the larger, often acrimonious debate about the role of nuclear power in the transition away from fossil fuels. […]