The announcement of a deal among environmental and labor interests and Pacific Gas & Electric to shut down the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant on California's central coast was not exactly a surprise. PG&E faced a formidable set of hurdles—environmental, seismic, economic, and political—it would have had to jump before it could have extended the operating licenses of the plant's two reactors, which expire in 2024 and 2025. The deal announced Tuesday—and recounted in many news outlets, but perhaps best in the Los Angeles Times piece linked below—instead calls for the reactors to close and for the energy they produce to be replaced with an assortment of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy storage measures. All of a sudden, PG&E and groups that had bitterly fought the company and Diablo Canyon for decades were compadres in energy.
The proposed agreement, which would end nuclear power generation in the largest US state, must be approved by several regulatory authorities. With major environmental and labor groups supporting the deal, it seems unlikely that any of those regulators will veto it. But it seems all but certain that supporters of nuclear power—particularly those who see it as vital to the fight against climate change—will be vigorous in attempting to undermine the agreement that would end California's experiment with civilian nuclear power. Witness this tweet from Mike Shellenberger, president of Environmental Progress, a nonprofit that, among other things, supports the use of nuclear power to fight climate change:
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