ICYMI: The Sacramento Bee - To fulfill promises of Diablo Canyon closure, California ignores fossil fuel emissions

Berkeley, Calif. On Friday, the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board published an article calling for Diablo Canyon to remain operational. In an about-face from the Editorial Board’s previous stance in 2016, they argued that if the plant was to close, it would result in higher consumption rates of fossil fuels, and ultimately increased carbon emissions. The Breakthrough Institute met with the Editorial Board the week prior.

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“This Editorial Board recently met with the Breakthrough Institute, an organization that argues that a carbon-free energy producer like Diablo Canyon needs to remain open. For decades, we’ve been told that closing nuclear plants is a good thing, yet a growing body of research shows that it’s far safer and cleaner than coal and gas. State regulators are failing to eliminate fossil fuels from California’s energy stock, and with alternatives lacking in scale, Breakthrough’s experts believe a more realistic path to achieving California’s climate goals is by salvaging our last nuclear facility.”

California experienced record temperatures last year, resulting in rolling blackouts — the first in more than 20 years — and increased consumption of carbon-emitting energy. “Natural gas accounted for over 48% of in-state power generation last year, up from 43% in 2019, according to the California Energy Commission. Roughly 29% of imported electricity was either natural gas or an unspecified non-renewable.”

“About 28% of the state’s energy supply is imported from other states, and the vulnerability of that approach was exposed earlier this month when the Bootleg Fire in Oregon threatened transmission lines that provide 4,000 megawatts of power.” To combat the likely scenario that California would experience another round of rolling blackouts, Gov. Gavin Newsom called on power plants to “generate as much power as possible.”

With climate change altering California’s energy consumption, the power grid is already struggling with California’s increased energy demands. Closing Diablo will undermine California’s goal to transition to a 100% green energy grid by 2045 and result, at best, in what Breakthrough’s Adam Stein recently called “treadmill decarbonization”.

“Increased greenhouse gas emissions tend to follow the closing of nuclear plants, so what California is trying to achieve with Diablo Canyon would be groundbreaking. But if state leaders want to pretend that simply adding clean energy capacity is the same thing as producing it, they’re dealing in deception. We aren’t going to be fooled.”