I recently received a press release from the Natural Resources Defense Council bragging about signing a deal with PG&E that — if approved by the California Public Utilities Commission — would result in the plant’s license extension application being withdrawn.
Without the extension, California would lose the last nuclear plant operating in the state by the end of 2025.
I described my reaction to that announcement in a post titled NRDC Announces PG&E Has Agreed To Kill Diablo Canyon.
Later in the day, I participated in a press conference hosted by Environmental Progress and Mothers for Nuclear. The three principals of those groups, Michael Shellenberger, Heather Matteson and Kristin Zaitz spent more than a half an hour explaining why they are certain that the deal struck between the NRDC, PG&E, FOE, IBEW Local 1245, Coalition of California Utility Employees, Environment California and Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility will fail.
They pointed out that the announcement is deceptive; there is no way to avoid the fact that closing an emission-free, reliable source of 17,000-18,000 gigawatt hours of steady power per year cannot be done without a substantial increase in greenhouse gas emissions. If there were ways to produce or avoid the need for that many kilowatt hours of power, why not implement them AND keep Diablo Canyon operating?
Here is a slightly modified version of the press release that Shellenberger read at the beginning of the press conference. The primary alteration is the addition of the fact that the Joint Proposal only specifies a total of 4,000 gigawatt hours per year implemented sometime before 2030, even though the agreement also results in Diablo Canyon’s contribution disappearing by 2025.
Statement by Environmental Progress and Mothers for Nuclear
June 21, 2016
The back-room Diablo Canyon deal — negotiated by corrupt institutions behaving unethically and perhaps illegally — will fail.
It will fail because it will would put our children and grandchildren at risk.
It will be rejected by the people of California, policymakers and the courts because of the human suffering and environmental harm it would cause.
It will fail because everyone now knows — and Sierra Club and NRDC have admitted — that closing nuclear plants will increase fossil fuels and carbon emissions.
It will fail because the proposal claims it will replace all 18,000 GWh of low-carbon power from Diablo Canyon but only specifies 2,000 GWh of “greenhouse gas-free sources” and 2,000 GWh of energy consumption reductions from energy efficiency.
It will fail because when people understand that the proposal is based on a big lie — that Diablo can be closed without increasing fossil fuel use, methane emissions and carbon emissions — they will reject it, and the leadership of the institutions who negotiated it.
It will be rejected because the evidence is overwhelming that moving from nuclear to natural gas would increase:
- Deaths from methane gas pipeline explosions, greater air pollution, and power outages affecting the sick and elderly.
- Electricity rates for all Californians, especially the poor.
- Global warming and ocean acidification from higher carbon emissions and methane emissions.
- Unemployment and poverty state-wide by replacing high-paying in-state nuclear jobs with low-paying out-of-state fracking jobs.
- The timing could not be better for efforts to save not just Diablo Canyon but nuclear plants around the United States and the world.
The proposal exposes the corruption of IBEW 1245 leadership and IBEW 1245’s failure to represent its members. IBEW 1245 lied to its workers when it claimed to be fighting to keep the plant open; has violated its moral duty to represent its workers interests; and may be in violation of state and federal laws.
The proposal, if enacted, would harm PG&E shareholders, ratepayers and workers. It would expose the company to more natural gas risk at a time that its executives are in a criminal trial over eight deaths caused by a natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno.
The proposal would increase electricity rates. And it will increase unemployment but destroying 1,500 good jobs, and sending those jobs to out of state natural gas fracking operations.
The proposal exposes the deep rot and hypocrisy within anti-nuclear groups NRDC and FOE. Organizations seeking to increase carbon emissions by moving from low-carbon energy to natural gas from fracking must be called what they are: anti-environmental organizations. By moving from nuclear to natural gas, these organizations are putting our children and grandchildren at risk of worsened global warming, ocean acidification and air pollution. They are acting on unscientific dogma as dangerous as that espoused by anti-vaxxers.
Already 100 people had signed up to attend our Friday 3:45 pm protest of NRDC and PG&E headquarters in San Francisco. We expect those numbers to increase significantly between now and then. On Saturday we will protest IBEW 1245 at its headquarters in Vacaville.
Already 100 people had signed up for our March for Environmental Hope! We expect those numbers to increase significantly. The March will go on.
The clarity provided by this corrupt deal allows us to focus on what matters: using the March as a strategic retreat to develop our political, legal and organizing strategy to achieve victory — not just for Diablo Canyon, but all nuclear plants threatened by anti-nuclear organizations, corrupt unions, craven policymakers and short-term corporate executives.
We will win because the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice.
We will win because the Californian people will defend their children and grandchildren against the suffering and danger this proposal would create.
We will win because we have five years to expose the truth, grow our movement and move the state and nation.
We will win because Californians, the American people and all humans love our children and grandchildren more than we believe superstitions and tolerate corruption.
We will win because people who love and care deeply about nature will come to see the environmental disaster this proposal would create.