— Gavin Newsom’s protection of PG&E and Diablo Canyon

From Mothers for Peace

Governor Newsom has been carrying PG&E’s water for too long. When will it end?
July 8, 2022

Governor Newsom’s cozy relationship with PG&E has been ongoing since his run for San Francisco Supervisor in 1998. By now, contributions from PG&E add up to well over $10 million in support of his campaigns and ballot measures.  The company has also contributed hundreds of thousands to Newsom’s wife’s foundation. In return, Newsom has helped PG&E get away with murder, literally. And now, Newsom is proving his loyalty to the company by providing a runway for PG&E to keep Diablo Canyon nuclear plant open past its agreed-upon closure date of 2025. 

On June 30, the Department of Energy (DOE) bowed to Newsom’s plea to change the rules so Diablo could qualify for a portion of the $6 million of Civil Nuclear Tax Credits. The DOE also extended the application deadline until September 6, 2022, allowing PG&E ample time to apply. Newsom is no stranger to manipulating circumstances to help PG&E. After the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people in 2018, Newsom had his lawyers craft a bill, AB 1054. This 2019 bill essentially protected PG&E by creating a $21 billion fund to help utilities cover the cost of major wildfires started by their equipment and forcing customers to pay for half of the cost of the fund. The bill also enabled PG&E to obtain official state safety certificates for two fire seasons since the Camp Fire. Yet, three years later, a state report on the 2021 Dixie Fire indicated that the utility was negligent in its tree-removal program, which helped spark the fire, and that their response the day of the fire was “excessively delayed.”

Newsom benefited from $208,400 in political contributions from PG&E to help him win his 2018 run for governor. 

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling weakening the EPA, Governor Newsom claimed that “California is taking bold action to further advance California’s progress toward an oil-free future and bolster the state’s clean energy economy.” Yet, at the same time, he convinced members of the State Legislature to pass a very climate-unfriendly Trailer Budget Bill. This legislation provides a $75 million allocation for the Department of Water Resources to purchase electricity from Diablo Canyon and hundreds of millions more for fossil fuel power plants.

Keeping Diablo open past 2025 breaks a hard-fought agreement between environmental organizations, labor, and PG&E. It puts the availability of renewable energy at risk, undercutting the state’s ability to reduce carbon dioxide and other climate-warming emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. California does not need Diablo to ensure sufficient energy to prevent power outages or meet climate goals. To be clear, Diablo Canyon is closing because PG&E determined in 2016 that doing so would enable it to meet California’s renewable energy standard (RES) and emissions standards more rapidly and more cost-effectively.

Newsom’s coddling of PG&E and his maneuverings at the state and federal levels to keep Diablo running is all the more disturbing in that his motivations are based on the false narrative that these fossil and nuclear-fueled plants will prevent power outages. They will not. Energy consultant Robert Freehling explains it succinctly: “These plants were operating during the early 2000s energy crisis and in 2020. They did not prevent outages.” 

Timeline: PG&E’s disasters since 2010
ABC10 examined the disasters and wildfires caused by PG&E, starting with the San Bruno Gas Explosion in 2010 then jumping ahead 8 years to the Camp Fire.Here’s a look at the timeline of PG&E’s disasters by ABC10:2010… PG&E was convicted of six federal felonies, including obstruction of the investigation, stemming from the 2010 San Bruno Gas Explosion. The blast killed eight people. Due to this conviction, the company was placed on probation until 2022, paid a $3 million fine, and was sentenced to 10,000 hours of community service.

2017… PG&E started serving time on probation in 2017, and as a convicted felon, donated $208,000 to Gavin Newsom’s run for governor.

2018... Newsom wins the governor’s race in November of 2018. Three days later, the Camp Fire started, destroying the town of Paradise and nearby communities. The fire resulted in the deaths of 85 people. It was determined the company left  a hook hanging for nearly a hundred years until it broke, dropped a power line and sparked the fire.

2019… Problems with similar parts on a high tension power line are blamed for sparking the Kincade Fire. It burned more than a hundred homes in wine country. No one died, but it was close. Firefighters were injured while saving people. PG&E is fighting multiple felony and misdemeanor charges filed by Sonoma County in connection to the Kincade Fire.

2020… PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 felony counts of manslaughter, and one felony for sparking the Camp Fire through criminally reckless behavior. Three months after the court proceedings for the Camp Fire, the Zogg Fire broke out when a tree hit a PG&E power line in Shasta County. Four people died, including eight-year-old Feyla McLeod and her mother, both of whom burned to death running for their lives in a pickup truck. It’s an active homicide investigation and prosecutors recently announced they will be filing charges against PG&E and possibly officials who work there. The judge managing PG&E’s probation already found PG&E committed safety “violations” when PG&E’s contractors marked an unsafe tree leaning over the power line, but no one ever followed up to cut it down.

2021… PG&E’s legal obligation to find and cut trees threatening power lines is again under investigation for the Dixie Fire, which is still raging through communities ever since igniting on July 13. The fire started where a tree fell on a PG&E power line just a short distance up the Feather River Canyon from where PG&E sparked the Camp Fire. The question for investigators isn’t whether PG&E sparked the Dixie Fire, but whether PG&E is criminally responsible. That question hinges on whether PG&E should have found the tree and cut it before it fell.

https://mothersforpeace.org/governor-newsom-has-been-carrying-pges-water-for-too-long-when-will-it-end/ — includes other links

https://www.abc10.com/article/news/local/wildfire/timeline-pges-disasters/103-980fbb37-2675-4cc5-a99f-62f1d2e837d4

ABC10 series: Fire Power Money
For over three years, ABC10’s Fire – Power – Money team has been at the forefront covering California’s wildfire crisis, the danger of PG&E’s power lines, and how the company avoids accountability.
Governor Newsom, PG&E, the CPUC, and the California fires
https://www.abc10.com/firepowermoney

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— Former Prime Minister of Japan tells Gov. Newsom: Shut down Diablo Canyon ASAP

Mothers for Peace SLO

Former Prime Minister of Japan Sounds the Alarm on Diablo Canyon
Naoto Kan Advises Governor Newsom to Close Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant ASAP

May 2022 – Naoto Kan was Prime Minister of Japan when the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster began. Hearing that California Governor Gavin Newsom is considering extending the operation of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant beyond its current license period, Kan felt compelled to contact the Governor, advising him to shut down the nuclear plant as soon as possible.

As a result of Naoto Kan’s experiences managing the triple meltdown catastrophe, he has become vocally anti-nuclear. As he explains in his memoir, My Nuclear Nightmare, “I came to understand that a nuclear accident carried with it a risk so large that it could lead to the collapse of a country.

“Eleven years on, the nuclear disaster in Japan is on-going. The government is set to release millions of gallons of irradiated water into the Pacific Ocean as early as next spring – angering citizens and governments worldwide.

Both Japan and California are seismically active and share coastlines with the Pacific Ocean. Fukushima Prefecture and San Luis Obispo County have many similarities, both communities relying heavily on agriculture, fishing, and tourism. Naoto Kan has a deep understanding of these shared risks and vulnerabilities. Thus, he is sounding the alarm on Diablo Canyon.

Carole Hisasue, Spokesperson for San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, states, “As history has clearly illustrated, nuclear accidents affect the entire world. We will all be safer when Diablo Canyon nuclear plant ceases operation.”

Full text of Naoto Kan’s letter to Governor Newsom:

May 12, 2022

Dear Governor Newsom,
I have heard that you have been considering extension of operations at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant which is set to decommission in a few years. I was the Prime Minister of Japan at the time of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident and based on my experiences dealing with that disaster, I advise you to shut down the nuclear plant as soon as possible.

As you know, three nuclear reactors built along the Pacific Coast in Fukushima melted down after the Great Northeastern Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011 and released an enormous amount of radiation.

Until this accident occurred, I never thought a nuclear event in which there would be a meltdown such as this could happen. And yet, in reality, the earthquake cut off external power, the emergency diesel generators were damaged by the tsunami and stopped. All power to control the nuclear plant was lost, three reactors could no longer be cooled and that led to the unthinkable meltdown. An incredible amount of radiation was released and even now, 11 years since then, many of the former residents of the areas around the nuclear plant are still in evacuation.

From my perspective, as someone who has personally experienced this accident, I believe that all nuclear power plants should be decommissioned as soon as possible and that we should move toward renewable energy, such as solar and wind, for all our power needs. This is why I am writing to you today.

I have enclosed the English version of a book I wrote about the Fukushima accident. I hope you can find the time to read it.

Naoto Kan 94th Prime Minister of Japan

Here is Naoto Kan’s letter in Japanese:

カルフォルニア州知事 キャビン・ニューソム 様
私は2011年、福島原発事故が発生した際に、日本の総理大臣を務め ていた菅直人と申します。現在カルフォルニア州で数年後に廃炉予定 のディアブロキャニオン原発について運転延長が検討されていると お聞きしました。私の福島原発事故を経験した立場から、原発はでき るだけ早く停止されることをお勧めします。
ご存じのように日本において2011年3月11日に発生した東日本大 震災と津波によって、福島県の太平洋沿岸に建設されていた3基の原 子炉がメルトダウンを起こし、大量の放射能を放出しました。
私自身この事故が発生するまではメルトダウンするような原発事 故は起こらないと考えていました。しかし実際には地震によって外部 電源が途絶し、さらに緊急用のディーゼル発電機が津波をかぶって停 止しました。そのため原発をコントロールする全電源が喪失し、3基 の原子炉は冷却できなくなりメルトダウンを起こしたのです。多くの 放射能が放出し、事故から11年経過した現在でも原発の近隣からは多 くの住民が避難しています。
事故を経験した私としては、できるだけ早いうちにすべての原発は 廃炉すべきであり、太陽光や風力発電によって必要な電力すべてを発 電する方向に向かうべきと考えています。そのことをお伝えしたくて 手紙をお書きしました。なお事故について私自身が書いた本の英訳本 を同封します。お読みいただければ幸いです。
2022年5月
日本国第94代総理大臣 菅 直人

https://mothersforpeace.org/former-prime-minister-of-japan-sounds-the-alarm-on-diablo-canyon-2/

— California’s Governor Newsom and Diablo Canyon

UPDATE: See below

Gavin Newsom may be forced to step down as Governor of California if a recall is approved September 14 by California voters.

He and the Democratic Party leaders are busy branding the recall a Republican effort, including a lawsuit by Newsom and divisive ads with Elizabeth Warren as spokeswoman – “distract and confuse” tactics. Many Californians are not interested in party power games and actually care about officials’ actions, such as when they protect special interests including utility companies and Big Oil, and allow risks or harm to the public and the environment.

For example, in 2016, when Newsom was Lieutenant Governor and on the California Lands Commission. Pacific Gas and Electric applied for a new permit for Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. The plant had never had state environmental review which many now urged the Commission to require. In addition,

– in 2015, it was revealed that PG&E had used incorrect safety data – since 1982 – and altered its operating license with the help of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to appear in compliance.

– Mothers for Peace SLO reviewed data and found PG&E committed 29 safety violations in 2014 alone, including inoperable backup generators. Fukushima meltdowns were initiated when the electricity grid shut down and backup generators failed when turned on. PG&E called these violations “gaps in excellence”.

PG&E improperly packed high burn-up spent fuel rods into dry cask storage in 2015, creating a serious risk of a nuclear accident.

– the plant and its desal plant cause extensive damage to the ocean, including its devastating once-through water intake system that kills marine life.

– the plant sits amidst an active, connected network of earthquake faults

– a nuclear accident at Diablo Canyon would impact critical agricultural lands north in Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties, east to the Central Valley, and south to Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, harm millions of people including Los Angeles, cause environmental destruction on land and to the Pacific Ocean, and devastate California, ranked the 5th largest economy in the world.

These are some of the issues. Friends of the Earth said in March 2015, “Diablo Canyon should never have been constructed in the first place, and now it is clear it should not be allowed to operate another day.”

Further, the Commission hearing was occurring as PG&E was on trial for the San Bruno disaster.

Despite the facts and the dangers from continued plant operation, Gavin Newsom refused to require environmental review and refused to delay the hearing to allow the public and experts to evaluate new information and Commission reports.

Instead, Newsom led the Commission in voting to approve the new permit, and applauded a recent agreement allowing the plant to operate for nine more years.

June 2016 hearing transcript; Diablo Canyon consideration starts on p. 78

Preceding April 2016 hearing transcript; Diablo Canyon starts on p. 55

Newsom’s comments at the hearings were very disturbing, given the issues and risks and PG&E’s safety history.

After 2016, California was hit with the powerful Ridgecrest earthquake and its many strong aftershocks – a powerful reminder of the daily risks. And even a power outage can cause a catastrophic nuclear accident, because nuclear power plants rely on grid power to keep fuel rods and spent fuel pools cool.

Newsom’s critical decision affecting the lives and future of so many is one example of his priorities and judgment. This is the reason many Californians support a recall.

– – –

See also:

https://nonukesca.net/diablo-canyon-shut-down-proposal-a-critical-view/

https://nonukesca.net/nrc-diablo-canyon-among-most-embrittled-plants-in-the-u-s/

UPDATE:

From ABC10 Sacramento:

Fire-Power-Money www.firepowermoney.com

https://www.abc10.com/article/news/local/abc10-originals/fire-power-money-california-wildfires-investigation-pge/103-c273fb35-1c43-4d9a-9bdc-3d7971e5540b

“For nearly three years, ABC10’s Fire – Power – Money team has been at the forefront covering California’s wildfire crisis, the danger of PG&E’s power lines, and how the company avoids accountability. 

Now, ABC10’s award-winning investigative series reveals how California’s state government, under Governor Gavin Newsom, responded to PG&E’s deadly crimes by giving the company rewards and protection.”

Take action on Diablo Canyon NPP: tell California State Lands Commission to do full CEQA review / update

UPDATE:
The Commission approved a new permit for PG&E at Diablo Canyon without an environmental review and rushed a new staff report, without adequate public review time.
Two hearings were held by the California Lands Commission — April 5, 2016 and June 28, 2016. The transcripts are below. At the second hearing, after public comments and comments by the commission, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom moved to approve a new lease for PG&E, without an environmental review and without giving the public 30-days to review a revised staff report. He also applauded the agreement by PG&E to close Diablo Canyon in 9 years at the close of its license.

Meeting transcripts:
https://www.slc.ca.gov/Meeting_Transcripts/2016_Documents/04-05-2016_Transcripts.pdf
The Diablo Canyon hearing begins on p. 55

https://www.slc.ca.gov/Meeting_Transcripts/2016_Documents/06-28-2016_Transcripts.pdf
The Diablo Canyon hearing begins on p. 78

From Mothers for Peace

California’s Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom, serves on the three-member State Lands Commission.  This Commission leases the land to PG&E for the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.  These leases are due to expire in 2018 and 2019.

ACTION: Send an email to the Commission asking the staff to prepare a full California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review for the land leases before considering a renewal. Also ask that the meeting scheduled for April 5 be held in San Luis Obispo County.  Send the message to:  Jennifer.Lucchesi at slc.ca.gov

Gavin Newsom Speaks on Diablo Canyon