Rep. Nunes Wants to Keep California’s Last Nuclear Power Plant Running

Rep. Nunes Wants to Keep California’s Last Nuclear Power Plant Running
The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, in Avila Beach, Calif., on June 20, 2010. (Joe Johnston/The Tribune (of San Luis Obispo) via AP)
Brad Jones

In midst of the summer heatwave, increased energy demands, and worries about possible rolling blackouts due to power shortages, a California Congressman plans to propose legislation aimed at preserving California’s last operating nuclear power plant.

Rep Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is expected to introduce the legislation in the House of Representatives on July 9. The bill, known as the Clean Energy Protection Act, would “ensure the continued operation of Diablo Power Canyon Power Plant.”

“Closing California’s last operating nuclear power plant will worsen the state’s energy crisis, drive up electricity prices, and eliminate a major source of zero-emissions clean energy,” Nunes told The Epoch Times via email on July 8.

Nunes suggested that California become more self-reliant in meeting its clean energy demands instead of closing Diablo Canyon, an electricity-generating nuclear power plant near Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, California.

One-third of California’s energy is imported from other states, according to the bill. In times of high demand, Nunes said those states could choose to serve their own residents first, as they did last year, “leaving Californians in the dark.”

The bill states that “between 2010 and 2020, California’s electricity prices jumped by 39.5 percent,” the largest increase of any U.S. state, and that “more than 800,000 homes and businesses lost power in August 2020.”

“With less than four years left before Diablo Canyon Power Plant near San Luis Obispo starts shutting down the state’s last two nuclear reactors, experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) say energy regulators have not prepared sufficiently for what happens next,” wrote the nonprofit organization UCS in an analysis from February.

“California is at risk of a 15.5 million metric ton increase in cumulative global warming emissions between now and 2030 if the state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) does not aggressively plan to replace Diablo Canyon’s nuclear generation with clean energy resources.”

Following the 2013 closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station south of San Clemente, California, along the Pacific coast, carbon dioxide from “California-based electricity greenhouse gas generation” began to rise, Nunes’s bill states.

In 2018, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed an executive order mandating that California achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. The same year, California regulators approved a request to shut down both of Diablo Canyon’s nuclear reactors.

The plant currently produces 10 percent of the state’s electricity, or 18,000 gigawatt-hours of power every year. More than half of the nation’s carbon-free energy is nuclear-generated, and nuclear-generated electricity makes up nearly 20 percent of the nation’s electricity, according to the proposed legislation.

The measure also calls for the granting of a federal license to expand the plant’s generating capacity by 8,000 megawatts.

Nunes’s office said in a statement that closing Diablo Canyon would drive up energy prices and likely mean replacing clean energy “to one extent or another” with fossil fuels.

“If the Democrats believed their own warnings about an approaching climate apocalypse, they’d be actively building nuclear power plants—a clean, efficient, and safe energy source with zero carbon emissions. But instead, they’re forcing the shutdown of California’s last operational nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, which is slated to retire in 2025,” the statement said.

“Saving Diablo Canyon from the Democrats’ climate chopping block is a necessary first step in a long fight to restore sensible energy policies to California.”