Mothers for Peace (MFP) has worked long and hard for nearly 50 years to first prevent operation and then to shut down Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant. Keeping the plant operating puts millions of Californians at risk due to the plant’s proximity to multiple earthquake faults. Additionally, continued operation will exacerbate the damage already done to marine life from its once-through-cooling system. And now annual generation provided by current energy projects alone produces more electricity for the California grid yearly than Diablo. These are three key reasons which mandate that PG&E, Diablo’s owner, stick to the agreement to shut the plant by 2025.
The pressure to close the plant was ramped up this week when over 170 national organizations signed a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm opposing the misuse of the Department of Energy’s Civil Nuclear Credit program (CNC) to dismantle the fossil-free phaseout and just transition plan for the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. Organizations include Beyond Nuclear, North American Water Office, Food & Water Watch, Institute for Policy Studies Climate Policy Program, Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), Center for Biological Diversity, International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) and more.
MFP joined over 50 organizations from California in signing the letter, including, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, SoCal 350 Climate Action, Tri-Valley CAREs, Physicians for Social Responsibility/Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility, Oceanic Preservation Society, Electric Vehicle Association of CA Central Coast, Californians for Energy Choice, Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab and more.
The CNC was created by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to mitigate potential greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) increases due to the closure of unprofitable nuclear reactors that operate in competitive electricity markets. The letter explains how applying the CNC program to Diablo Canyon would violate the letter and intent of the law. The nuclear power plant is not eligible for funds under the CNC program because it does not meet the basic requirements of the IIJA nor those of the CNC program guidance DOE published to implement the program.
The letter highlights climate, economic, environmental justice, and power supply concerns with the abandonment of the just transition agreement dictating the planned closure of Diablo Canyon’s nuclear reactors in 2024 and 2025.
Linda Seeley, a spokesperson for Mothers for Peace, remarked, “Keeping Diablo open would impede the growth of renewable energy because of Diablo’s inflexible base flow generation, cause transmission problems as we saw in the 2020 power outage, and increase rates.” She added, “It is unconscionable that Governor Newsom would renege on his promise and undermine the just transition model the agreement upholds. Using Federal dollars to continue putting Californians at risk is truly outrageous. It’s a monumental scam.”
The letter addresses concerns that closing Diablo Canyon would slow and impede California’s energy transition, stating that these fears are unfounded since the closure agreement includes a firm commitment by PG&E to meet California’s GHG reduction targets and exceed the state’s renewable energy standard. That commitment is reinforced by CPUC orders requiring more than 20,000 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy and electricity storage by the time Diablo Canyon closes in 2025, as well as state legislation enacted in 2018 (SB 100) requiring that the retirement of Diablo Canyon not result in increases in GHG emissions.
Tim Judson, NIRS executive director, said, “The Diablo Canyon phaseout plan which California is implementing is a just transition model DOE should promote instead of seeking to preempt it. The basis for the plan shows how phasing out nuclear power plants along with fossil fuel generation can help accelerate emissions reductions, the growth of the renewable energy economy, and a just and equitable transition for workers and communities. Is DOE afraid to let that happen while it is spending billions of dollars to promote the idea that we need to invest in overly expensive, failure-prone nuclear power plants?”
The coalition of organizations urges Secretary Granholm to uphold the Biden administration’s commitment to environmental justice and climate action and honor the agreement to close Diablo Canyon. The letter states, “Bailing out old nuclear power plants is not the way to spark the energy transition we need to save the climate, create good jobs, build a strong economy, and advance environmental justice.”
Read the letter and list of 179 organizations here.