“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. Diablo Canyon must be shut down now, and there should be both state and federal investigations into PG&E’s negligence.”
Damon Moglen, Senior Strategic Advisor, Friends of the Earth, March 9, 2015
On June 21, 2016, Friends of the Earth sent out an email entitled “BREAKING: Huge victory for renewable energy” and congratulating themselves for closing Diablo Canyon. The problem is, it wasn’t true.
With no link in the email for more information, an internet search finally located the press release from FOE with the details and agreement documents.[i] They reveal a different picture.
Yes, Friends of the Earth, in partnership with NRDC and other groups, negotiated a closure of Diablo Canyon, but it won’t happen for 9 years – in 2025.
That is a catastrophe, not a victory.
The group is now lobbying the CPUC to accept this agreement and lobbying the California Lands Commission to give a “short-term” extension of PG&E’s lease of the land until that time.
Well-known names are missing from this agreement, names such as Greenpeace, Physicians for Social Responsibility, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, Committee to Bridge the Gap, the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, Beyond Nuclear, Ecological Options Network, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Nuclear Hotseat, Public Citizen, Food and Water Watch, Tri-Valley CAREs, even Union of Concerned Scientists, and Sierra Club. They’re not there for one reason: this agreement lacks integrity and realism.
The only parties to the agreement are Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, PG&E, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245 (IBEW), Coalition of California Utility Employees, and Environment California It’s worth noting that Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility is also supporting SB 968, Sen. Bill Monning’s bill.
Those of us who applauded the lawsuit by Friends of the Earth, after the NRC staff revelations about Diablo Canyon safety issues and all the longstanding safety problems at the plant, expected a real lawsuit, with real solutions proposed. When FOE called for an immediate shutdown in March 2015, Damon Moglen, Senior Strategic Adviser, said:
“It’s terrifying to think that for 30 years PG&E used the wrong numbers for vital equipment at the U.S. reactors most at risk from earthquakes. No one would dream of putting nuclear reactors in that location today. 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. Diablo Canyon must be shut down now, and there should be both state and federal investigations into PG&E’s negligence.” [ii]
Where did that go? This is not just a 180 degree turn. This is betrayal.
Their letter to the California Lands Commission called Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant a “GHG free generation resource” and states it doesn’t generate any greenhouse gas emissions—incredibly inaccurate but characteristic of nuclear industry propaganda.
PG&E Corporation Chairman, CEO and President Tony Earley …”Importantly, this proposal recognizes the value of GHG-free nuclear power as an important bridge strategy to help ensure that power remains affordable and reliable and that we do not increase the use of fossil fuels while supporting California’s vision for the future.”
…PG&E plans to operate the two units at Diablo Canyon to the end of their current NRC operating licenses, which expire on Nov. 2, 2024, and Aug. 26, [iii]
The letter says granting an extension to the lease would “directly promote California’s GHG emission reduction,” ignoring the danger of its continued operation every day which could destroy any future for California. IBEW got a guarantee in the agreement of $350 million for Diablo Canyon employees’ severance, retention, and retraining. Wow! What an amazing per-employee expenditure. Further, any approval by the CPUC has a condition that the approval cannot be appealed.
This is appalling, and the reasons behind this derailment can only be guessed. The organizations that refused to participate in this charade, that are opposing SB 968 in Sacramento, and that continue to fight to close Diablo Canyon should be applauded and supported.
Diablo Canyon is a ticking time bomb that endangers all life in Central California (and beyond) every day. This agreement gives Diablo Canyon and PG&E a pass for 9 long years. That isn’t progress. That is dangerous, fool-hardy denial, playing with nuclear catastrophe. With friends like these, who needs enemies? Friend or FOE? The answer is clear.
Diablo Canyon nuclear plant to be shut down, power replaced by renewables, efficiency, storage
Diablo Canyon: PG&E secretly used wrong design data for key safety equipment for 30 years
Proposal would phase out nuclear power in California to support state energy policies