Is Gavin Newsom trying to close Diablo Canyon?
January 4, 2016
California’s second-in-command and a leading candidate in the 2018 governor’s race, Gavin Newsom, is predicting Diablo Canyon power plant will close by the time its current licenses expire in 2024 and 2025. Newsom is also using his position as chair of state commission to subject the nuclear plant to environmental review that PG&E officials did not expect to occur. [SF Chronicle]
PG&E leases states tidelands in order to operate the plant’s cooling system, which sucks in water from the ocean and then returns it. The tidelands leases expire in 2018 and 2019, and PG&E is currently requesting the State Lands Commission approve extensions of the leases.
Newsom, who is the chairman of the State Lands Commission, is calling for there to be a full environmental review before the the commission decides on the lease extensions. The commission may vote in February on whether a new tidelands lease requires an environmental impact report (EIR).
If the commission does require an EIR, the process could take more than a year and it may reignite debate over the safety of the power plant.
“I don’t think that PG&E, in its quiet moments, would disagree that this may not have been the ideal site for a plant,” Newsom said at the Dec. 18 State Lands Commission meeting.
PG&E spokesman Tom Cuddy said an environmental review is not needed because PG&E is proposing no operational or design changes to its cooling system.
Newsom, who often voices support for green causes, has not ruled out approving the lease extensions. He urged the State Lands Commission to consider how Diablo Canyon fits into California’s attempts to halt global warming.
Unlike conventional power plants, Diablo Canyon does not pump any greenhouse gases into the sky.
Still, Newsom says he does believe the plant will stay open another 10 years.
“I just don’t see that this plant is going to survive beyond 2024, 2025,” Newsom said. “I just don’t see that. Now, I absolutely may be wrong, but that’s my punditry. And there is a compelling argument as to why it shouldn’t.”