Letter to Newsom: Keep Diablo Canyon Open

February 7, 2022

Letter to Governor Newsom:
Keep Diablo Canyon Open

Anthropocene Institute played a role in a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom dated February 1, 2022 urging him to delay closure of California's remaining nuclear plant to comply with state laws on fighting global warming. In the letter, the signatories note, “Considering our climate crisis, closing the plant is not only irresponsible, the consequences could be catastrophic.”

Anthropocene Institute’s founder who is also a signatory says, “Existing nuclear power can help us mitigate climate change. It’s the only carbon-free, scalable energy source we have now that’s available 24 hours a day. Nuclear plants also have no negative effects on air quality”.

Nearly 80 scientists and academics signed on to the letter urging that Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant stay open for the time being, including the Former U.S. Secretary of Energy and Nobel Laureate Dr. Steven Chu. The letter was covered by Reuters and the Times of San Diego.

Isabelle Boemeke (also known as Isodope), a model and founder and executive director of Save Clean Energy, a nonprofit group that promotes the emissions benefits of nuclear power, organized the letter.

Overcoming objections

People sometimes balk at nuclear power because of earthquakes. However, as the letter states, Diablo Canyon can withstand earthquakes larger than nearby faults are capable of triggering. It cited an assessment that PG&E sent in 2018 to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission finding no significant seismic or tsunami hazards to the plant.

Others object because of nuclear waste. Almost all countries with commercial nuclear power production are planning to isolate the waste byproduct of their nuclear fuel cycle in a deep geological repository. This technology fills a big hole in our nuclear future, one that is necessary for us to seriously address climate change.

Rising public support

As climate concerns have mounted, so has the call to keep open Diablo Canyon, which backers note is the state's top source of emissions-free power. Opinions about nuclear, too, have continued to shift as the realities of climate change intensify. For the fourth consecutive year in 2021, ecoAmerica conducted its American Climate Perspectives Survey, sponsored in part by Anthropocene Institute. The survey shows that 59 percent of Americans “totally support” existing nuclear energy and recognize that it produces around 20 percent of U.S. electricity. Toplines from the survey can be found here.

A final thought

It's time to get behind the development and deployment of small nuclear reactors (SMRs) made by companies such as Terrestrial Energy, NuScale, and Oklo. They’re designed with modular technology on a production line, with small fuel loadings, passive safety features, and the capacity to work in tandem with fluctuating renewable sources.

But as a first step, we must preserve existing nuclear power generation and invest in and adopt “new” nuclear power. The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant provides safe, cost-effective, reliable, and clean power while ensuring the grid has sufficient capacity to operate reliably. It makes no sense to close California’s largest generator, which produces more power annually than five Hoover Dams.
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