Blue State Dems Throw Wrench In Plan To Extend Life Of Zero Emission Power Plant 

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Robert Schmad Contributor
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The Democratic-controlled California Senate and Assembly opposed a loan that would extend the lifespan of the state’s last remaining nuclear power plant, Newsweek reported Friday.

Democrats in the California state legislature voted Thursday to cancel a $400 million loan proposed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom that would help keep the state’s Diablo Canyon nuclear facility open until 2030, five years longer than its current expiry date, according to Newsweek. Nuclear energy produces zero carbon emissions and the Diablo Canyon plant in particular produces 9% of the energy used by California’s nearly 40 million inhabitants, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

California lawmakers cited estimates claiming that keeping the plant open past its current 2025 closing date could cost nearly $12 billion as their reasoning for opposing the loan, the Associated Press reported. Pacific Gas & Electric, the company operating the plant, pushed back on these estimates, saying the extension will cost $8.3 billion and argued that “the financial benefits exceed the costs.” (RELATED: Org That Wants To Cut Carbon Emissions Sues To Close Zero-Emission Nuclear Power Plant)

“The budget process for the state is ongoing, so it would be premature for us to comment,” Pacific Gas & Electric told the Daily Caller News Foundation when asked about the legislature’s vote.

The legislature’s move against the loan brushes up against one of Newsom’s top priorities, aggressively increasing the proportion of California’s energy that comes from renewable sources. Newsom and the legislature established goals in 2022 for the state to reach 90% renewable electricity by 2035, 95% by 2040 and 100% by 2045.

Aerial view of Diablo Canyon, the only operational nuclear plant left in California. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Newsom previously opposed extending the lifespan of the plant, though changed his position, reportedly because he wanted to avoid widespread blackouts like the ones that hit California in August 2020, according to the AP.

The DOE in April approved a $1.1 billion credit payment to keep the Diablo Canyon Power Plant open past 2025 after conducting an environmental assessment and concluding that the plant “complies with Federal, state, and local environmental regulations, requirements, and agreements and operates using best management practices.”

Nuclear power plants do not directly produce carbon emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, the volume of nuclear waste produced by American nuclear plants in a given year would fill less than half the volume of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, according to the DOE.

Despite the risk assessment and the lack of carbon emissions, environmentalist groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility joined California Democrats in opposing the loan to extend the nuclear plant’s lifespan, according to Newsweek.

Newsom is pursuing ways to reduce emissions in California beyond saving the Diablo Canyon plant, including by pushing for a ban on the sale of gas-powered passenger vehicles by 2035. The infrastructure required to support the transition to electric vehicles could cost anywhere between $6 billion and $20 billion, according to a study published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

California under Newsom has also made large investments into solar and wind energy. Many of the solar companies the state fed funds to, however, now face bankruptcy.

The California governor’s office did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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