Aerial view of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant which sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, California on March 17, 2011.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced Tuesday it will close Diablo Canyon, California’s last nuclear plant, in 2025, putting an end to the state’s nuclear era. As part of an agreement with several environmental groups, PG&E plans to replace Diablo Canyon with clean energy rather than fossil fuels. This plan has support from a variety of environmental groups — including Friends of the Earth and the Natural Resources Defense Council — but some have criticized shutting down such a large source of carbon-free power, questioning the feasibility of PG&E’s plan to replace Diablo with renewables. In this hour of Forum, we’ll discuss the plans for shutting down Diablo Canyon and how it might impact the state’s future energy needs.

Related Coverage

The End of An Era, California to Close Last Nuclear Power Plant (KQED Science)

PG&E Agrees to Close Diablo Canyon, California’s Last Nuclear Plant 23 June,2016Michael Krasny

Guests:
Damon Moglen, senior strategic advisor, Friends of the Earth
Michael Shellenberger, president, Environmental Progress
Lauren Sommer, science and environment reporter, KQED Public Radio

  • EIDALM

    You can compare the safety of nuclear reactors to those of airplanes ,so while flying by far is the safest mode of transportation ,yet when we have just one single crash in so many years ,it becomes big news….I believe that is the case of nuclear reactors as well.

  • EIDALM

    I believe that the decision by PG&E to shutdown the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is a big mistake ,I base that on my scientific background as I spend 13 years at U C Berkeley in the department of nuclear engineering , I am well informed on the subject of nuclear reactors operation and safety ,one of my achievement I was able to solve the neutron transport equation using analytical method ,one of my thesis dealt with solution of coupled nuclear reactors complex equations , I also had extensive studies on nuclear reactors safety as well the biological effect of radiation on people and the environment ,with all of that in mined ,I observed that there is undue fear of nuclear reactors in the U S based on ignorance of the subject and awful lots of misinformation about that subject,,,,The fact is ,near all nuclear reactors accidents where due to human errors ,as that was the case in Chernobyl where the Russians built that reactor on known faulty design was known to be dangerous and abandoned by the U S and other countries over 20 years before the accident as deemed unsafe ,on the other hand just as bad was the case in Japan where the Fukushima reactor was built on extreme earthquakes prone spot right offshore where the thread of of very destructive tsunami was well known in that area through history ,they built a wall that was not high enough to protect the containment building ,they used diesil fueled pumps to circulate the coolant ,all were damaged by the tsunami which lead to runaway nuclear reactions and near meltdown ,they also had those pumps on the wrong place and the multi level of the reactor containment was actually stupid and wrong…..In summery until we can produce enough none fossil fuel sources to supply our energy need ,we must keep our nuclear reactors .

    • Bill Clawson

      When done right, nuclear power is fine, but you only seem to find out things were done wrong after the meltdown.

      • Bob Meinetz

        Three units at Chernobyl generated carbon-free electricity for 13 years after the meltdown at Unit 4. People went to work there every day, punched their cards, worked their shift, then went home – as if nothing happened. Don’t believe everything Greenpeace tells you – it’s their job to scare you.

        • Bill Clawson

          The surrounding area is also completely devoid of human habitation. Could you work there? Yeah probably. Could you eat food grown there? Probably not recommended.

          • Bob Meinetz

            Radiation is 1/1000 of what it was in 1986 and there are quite a few people living in nearby Pripyat, contrary to popular belief. Doubtful they eat food grown in the soil, areas of which will remain dangerously radioactive for a long, long time.

            We need an accurate assessment of risk/reward, not fearmongering. Of which on that topic, is pretty much all Greenpeace is capable.

          • Ike Bottema

            There are people that live there … never left the area in fact! They are doing just fine thanks for asking. Wildlife has taken over with no radiation damage. Forbes: http://tinyurl.com/zq9auh5 See for yourself: http://tinyurl.com/lov8zum

          • WhatTheFlux

            It’s only “devoid of human habitation” because the govt cleared the people out. Those that remain, or came back, are fine, and have been for decades, growing and eating their own food, drinking the water, etc. And the wildlife is flourishing, too.

  • EIDALM

    The fact is beside of the billions of tons of CO2 and other pollutants we produce by burning fossil fuel ,it also produces hundreds of millions of times more radioactive materials than all the nuclear plants on earth ,and that including thorium ,uranium ,and others ,and we breath that too as well it contaminate our water and agriculture products.

  • Another Mike

    And we poor harried ratepayers have no say in the matter?
    When the Texas companies were making the cost of our electricity skyrocket a decade ago, PG&E’s cheapest power source was Diablo Canyon.

    The Moss Landing station changed from oil to natural gas. I’ll believe that Diablo Canyon’s energy will be replaced with renewables when I see it.

    • Bob Meinetz

      You will have a say in the matter, because California Public Utilities Commission rules say you can only be billed for charges which are “in the public interest”. It’s the law, and this story is far from over.

  • Bill_Woods

    Wind and solar can provide a useful fraction of our electricity, but nuclear remains the only essential source of clean power.

  • Another Mike

    The Pritzker family that donates to a number of worthy causes in the Chicago area? The humanitarian, philanthropist Pritzkers?

    • Molly Johnson

      Humanitarian, philanthropist PRO-NUKE Pritzkers!

      • Bob Meinetz

        That’s right, a lot of conscientious smart people are PRO-NUKE – get used to it.

  • Sean Karlin

    Everything Greenpeace told us 30, 40 years ago, turned out to be right. Michael Shellenberger used to know that, but he took a payoff from the nuclear power industry and is totally without credibility.

    • What specifically are you referring to?

    • That is a lie. Glad your face is attached to it.

      • Sean Karlin

        What is a lie about it? Does Breakthrough not take funding from from 6 or 7 big foundations, some of which were created to support the Nuclear power industry? And why are you glad my face is attached?

        • a. No, Breakthrough does not, has never, and never will; b. I am President of Environmental Progress. c. do you often mindlessly puppet lies you’ve heard? d. you owe me an apology.

          • Sean Karlin

            Let’s do it in person.

          • You insult my integrity by repeating a lie and now you want a sit down? No way. Apologize and take it back. If you do that, then you can come to our protest tomorrow and shake my hand.

            marchforenvironmentalhope.org

          • Sean Karlin

            You insulted every environmental group you could rattle off on the radio. Do you feel the need to apologize? I am sure you do not. Anyhow, I don’t actually believe you, nor do I want to shake your hand. I hope you have a good life and that you fail in your designs for a nuclear powered future.

          • Bob Meinetz

            From what I heard, Shellenberger told other participants facts to their faces, and they didn’t like it. If they find the truth insulting, they have their own issues to deal with.
            You, OTOH, questioned Shellenberger’s integrity with no evidence – that’s an insult. Apologize, or the only credibility lost is your own.

          • Thanks for clarifying that whatever reason you had for wanting to meet in person was creepy and weird.

            I don’t know what you’re talking about when you say I insulted environmental groups — what I did was criticize anti-environmental groups NRDC, Sierra Club, and ELPC for taking money from fossil fuel and renewable energy interests, and for adopting superstitious beliefs long ago debunked by Lancet and IPCC.

            Your behavior here typifies the mendacity that characterizes anti-nuclear activism. Readers who want to learn more can find ample more cases in this history:

            epillinois.org/news/2016/5/1/why-environmentalists-changed-their-mind-on-nuclear

  • Another Mike

    If, as the anti-nuclear activist asserted, PG&E has the energy storage solution licked, then why do they tell solar plants to shut down during the day?

    • Molly Johnson

      The reason solar plants have to shut down is because if it is nice and sunny and they are providing power at their maximum they can’t tell Diablo to power down at all because you simply can’t do that with a nuclear power plant without causing extreme problems. Therefore, any solar or wind power is halted because there would be, otherwise, too much power going into the grid. It is in this way that nuclear power halts the progress of renewables.

      • Another Mike

        Why not simply store the solar power?

        • Bill_Woods

          Because it’d be too expensive.

        • Bill Clawson

          You could if you had a method for doing so. The Gianelli Power Plant at the San Luis Reservoir Dam has been used to store power, although the current water level is abysmal. The reservoir essentially works like a battery: pumps drive water uphill into the reservoir when there is extra power, generators use the height potential to generate electricity when extra power is needed.

          • Another Mike

            Pumped storage technology is at least 40 years old, and, as you point out, requires water that is thus unusable for any other purpose.
            What is the technology the anti-nuclear activist was touting?

          • Bill Clawson

            Not necessarily. It’s possible to use only part of the capacity of a reservoir for pumped storage. Also, the facility I mentioned is part of the California Aqueduct, so the water is already present. Pumped storage may be 40 years old, but it’s about the most practical large scale energy storage system there is.

          • Bill Clawson

            To be fair, I have no idea what anti-nuclear activists are touting as a storage solution. Some of them are true Luddites (not all, but some).

          • WhatTheFlux

            Maybe Tesla batteries, which only last 10 years and would cost billions to backup a statewide renewables portfolio.

        • WhatTheFlux

          Run the numbers, Another Mike. The only possible way is pumped hydro, and CA is in the middle of a biblical drought. So pick the valley you want to dam and grab your gun, because you’re going to run into some beaucoup opposition when you wade into our water wars suggesting a pumped hydro “solution.”

      • Bob Meinetz

        Then when a cloud front moves in over Topaz and the solar farm shuts down, PG&E burns fossil fuel to make up the difference. Nuclear never has that problem – thus renewables are halting the progress of nuclear.

      • WhatTheFlux

        Actually, the Rube Goldberg scheme of running the 7th largest economy in the world on renewables is halting the progress of nuclear power.

        NO ONE died at Three Mile Island, or Fukushima, and though 60 died at Chernobyl, no one will ever build a reactor like that again.

        But shutting down TMI in a breathless panic over radiation directly resulted in the halt of nuclear power expansion in America, which was filled in by an expansion of coal. And in the 35 years since TMI, the coal that replaced nuclear provably caused over 100,000 deaths.

        And now this idiocy with Diablo, and San Onofre, each of which produce(d) the equivalent of a Hoover Dam.

        • Bill_Woods

          “But shutting down TMI in a breathless panic over radiation directly resulted in the halt of nuclear power expansion in America, …”
          TMI was a factor, but after the 1973 oil shock, demand for electricity was growing a lot slower than utilities had projected. They had to cut their plans for increased capacity, so nuclear plants on the drawing board got the chop. Several cases of extreme cost overruns didn’t help nuclear’s reputation either.

          • Bob Meinetz

            Many of those the cost overruns, to which France and China are largely immune, were the result of anti-nuclear stalling tactics – like the blizzard of court filings from pro-fossil “Friends of the Earth” and “Natural Resources Defense Council” which closed San Onofre. Like the anti-nuclear activists who slowly read entire magazine articles at hearings for Shoreham in the 1980s, costing Long Island Lighting Co. $1 million/day.

          • Bill_Woods

            Sure, but some weren’t. I have a vague recollection of some important piece of equipment at Diablo Canyon being installed backwards. And France’s EDF has bungled its EPR reactor projects in Finland and France. Unlike China. These days South Korea is probably the exemplar, building on schedule and on budget both in Korea and the UAE.

  • Robert Thomas

    I had an amusing back-and-forth yesterday on the Disqus platform with a tenacious interlocutor and rooftop solar proponent who was unable to understand (or even acknowledge) the difference between energy and power. The discussion was about Tesla Corporation’s intent to market domestic battery systems and the inherent dangers and caveats associated with the operation of high-joule energy reservoirs that, while not without available mitigation, are also not negligible.

    It was a stark illustration of the primacy of ideology in the minds those simultaneously completely confused about the facts of what amounts to high school physics on the one hand and who are yet utterly convinced of the rationality of their goofy ideas, on the other.

    I find it risible that anyone believes that PG&E (and its partner distribution operators) doesn’t intend to replace the Diablo Canyon capacity with much simpler, much cheaper natural gas combustion.

    • Another Mike

      Fracked gas is dirt cheap.

      • chriswinter

        Unless the environmental costs are factored in.

      • And there are growing indications that, this resource also, is near peak production, and will soon begin its remorseless, immutable [capacity] decline regardless of how much money and promises are thrown at it. You can’t ‘regulate’ Physics.
        Dr. Gary Rutledge

    • Ehkzu

      Just as the German Greens can’t seem to get it through their heads that they’re giving up nuclear power for brown coal–the worst possible fuel source for global warming.

      Spent fuel lasts thousands of years? Well, guess what. So does CO2.

  • jdoubleu

    I found Michael’s condescending comment about how a caller pronounced “nuclear” very offensive. Yes, he sounded like GWB; who cares? Yes, you’re an intellectual, informed professor. Why does his pronunciation of that word make his comments less valid? You just lost an listener AND a long-time annual donor. I think I’ll recycle the KQED earthquake bucket too. I honestly don’t think you realize how rude you can come across to listeners at times. If this was the first time I had heard something like this, I might let it go; since I’m a daily listener, I’m finally over it.

    • Robert Thomas

      It’s pretty funny, since Our Host always pronounces “silicon” in the “humanities” manner; as a mispronunciation of “silicone” – a material once used to inflate body parts or alternately, to caulk one’s bathtub.

    • Ehkzu

      Yes, Dr Krasny erred on the side of pedantry. However, your reaction is draconian. The alternatives are the AM radio talk shows. I’ve listened to them. I suspect you haven’t.

  • Ehkzu

    The anti-nuclear environmentalist movement is proof positive that extreme stupidity is not the sole province of Trump supporters. It’s emotional thinking, it’s tunnel vision. And it started long ago. We killed more Japanese in the Tokyo firebomb raids than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined, but there’s no Fire Bomb Raids memorial in Tokyo. Germany is giving up its safe, well-built nuclear powerplants…for brown coal, the dirtiest of all energy sources.

    Note that Chernobyl was constructed using methods that the West would have found unacceptable even then. It’s an argument against Soviet-form government, not nuclear power. And the nuclear facilities possible today would be vastly safer and cost effective but for the nonstop litigation by nuclear opponents.

    And listen to your anti-nukes guest. He’s unable to think about global warming and nuclear power at the same time. Spent fuel stays dangerous thousands of years? Well, so does CO2 in the atmosphere. It just doesn’t have the magic “N” word attached to it.

    Ideologues of the Left and Right are, in the Shakespearean definition of the word, fools.

    • chriswinter

      And Chernobyl still might not have blown up if that test had been done according to the rules.

      • SFMike1

        And human beings are notoriously bad at following the rules and procedures 100% of the time. Nuclear power plants can be incredibly unforgiving to human lapses even 0.001 % of the time.

        • Bob Meinetz

          On a per-kilowatthour basis nuclear is safer than every form of utility generation except wind. Coal, natural gas, hydropower, solar. Incredibly forgiving.

        • chriswinter

          Really, Mike? You just typed 31 words without violating any rule of spelling or grammar. More to the point, think of all the airline flights, train & bus trips, surgical operations, etc. that show your statement to be exaggerated.

    • Nomen Callide

      Well stated. It is, indeed, unfortunate that several in the env movement have got hold of the wrong end of the stick on nuclear. In a perfect world, sure, I’d love to have an all-renewables energy portfolio, but that’s not happening anytime soon. In the meantime, FOE, et al, should keep nuclear at priority #57, not #1. Oil, coal, gas…therein lies the problem. We need more sophistication and nuance in the env movement if we’re going to make progress.

      • Actually, Norman, it is happening (“I’d love to have an all-renewables energy portfolio, but that’s not happening anytime soon.) See: “Using Only Renewable Energy, Portugal Powered Its Entire Country for Four Days”, June 21

        Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/using-only-renewable-energy-portugal-powered-its-entire-country-for-four-days.html#ixzz4CQeZZHDW

        • If it worked as successfully as the article would lead us to believe why did they stop?

        • Nomen Callide

          Understood that these experiments are underway, and that this is a Good Thing. I suppose the crux of the matter is the meaning of “anytime soon”. Estimates of cracking the storage/smoothing problem look to me like they’re 20 years away (e.g. so-called flow batteries). Then, there’s the actual time and effort to make the massive infrastructure transition. 50 years? In any event, at some level I get the instinct to want to resist further investment in nuclear, but it strikes me as a problematic priorities issue, laced with fear-mongering and lack of pragmatism. If the climate models are to be believed, there are much *much* bigger problems to worry about and nuclear can actually play a stabilizing transitional role.

        • WhatTheFlux

          Four – count ’em FOUR! – whole days! I’m not impressed.

          Run Portugal on wind and solar for four years straight – rain or shine, night and day, etc. – and I’ll be impressed.

        • Portugal was able to generate all electricity from renewable sources for four days because of strong winds and heavy rains. What happens on calm, cloudless nights? http://euanmearns.com/did-portugal-run-for-four-days-on-renewables-alone/

  • Chris OConnell

    It’s hard to listen to bickering like this. Not Forum quality discussion. Separate 30-minutes segments might be more edifying, or at least listenable.

    • chriswinter

      Agreed. Contention is understandable; energy is a contentious issue. But talking over each other as these panelists did achieves nothing but more contention. It’s the equivalent of Joe Wilson (not the former ambassador) shouting “You lie!” at President Obama.

    • I completely disagree. I thought this was one of the best Forum programs I’ve ever heard since both guests were passionate and knowledgeable about the subject. Separate segments where guests are unable to challenge each other’s assertions don’t edify the listener as much as a debate like this.

  • Bill_Woods

    Approximate quote: 23% of California’s clean power comes from Diablo Canyon. The FOE guy seemed not to know this.
    I don’t have an annual figure handy, but for last March, the figure was 19%. So the claim is entirely plausible.
    http://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=CA#tabs-4

  • Another Mike

    Not to be a crybaby, but why give airtime to a listener from Alberta talking about a speculative new nuclear power technology? Instead of addressing even one of these website comments?

  • SFMike1

    It seems to me that the momentum of the progress of the wind-solar-storage option is such that by the time the nuclear industry gets its act together on the next-gen, safer, cheaper plants, it will be a moot point. By that time (probably a couple of decades) solutions to the energy storage problem will be already solved AND deployed along with a grid that is properly structured for distributed energy resources. For those interested in delving into this more deeply, please take a look at Rocky Mountain Institute web site.

    • Progress on the wind/solar storage front is not anywhere near as fast as most people think. Plus you need to keep in mind that the batteries used to store solar energy for later use are INCREDIBLY toxic and difficult to dispose of, and require strip-mining to get materials to make them.

      There are significant costs to any form of energy. Geothermal and hydro are probably the most efficient with the least environmental impact but they are not sufficient to provide our total power needs.

    • Bob Meinetz

      The “wind-solar-storage option” is only an option if you fail to consider that running out of electricity is not an option.

      That mandates maintaining an entire dispatchable infrastructure just in case there’s a prolonged period of cloudy and/or windless weather. The cost of your solar panels and wind turbines doubles, and suddenly people who are tired of paying the astronomical rates required to support both options say, “Cut the renewables, give us electricity when we need it”.

      Back to where we started.

  • Bill Clawson

    Even if Michael Shellenberger is not a nuclear power shill, maybe he should be. Nothing but attack, attack, attack, and everything you know is wrong. Even in the off-chance he’s right, you desperately want him to be wrong.

    I have no problem with nuclear power, per se, but its implementation has been questionable. It wasn’t until after the

    Tōhoku Earthquake, Tsunami, and consequent Fukushima meltdown that we learned that safe-ed (turned off) nuclear reactors will still melt down due to decay heat and the even the spent cores in the “cooling” pond will melt should the water circulation pumps shut down (as they did in Fukushima). This begs the question why reactors aren’t designed to passively maintain coolant circulation (through convection or at least by using pumps driven by the reactor heat itself).

    I think the subject matter is important to discuss, but it would serve the public better by avoiding such acrimonious exchanges.

    • Bob Meinetz

      No one died at Fukushima, and it’s quite possible no one ever will. In contrast, coal plants (mostly in the southeastern U.S.) are responsible for the premature deaths of 13,000 Americans every year. If radiation from Diablo Canyon killed one person (it never has), antinukes would be hysterical.

      The acrimonious exchanges come about when people who understand the essential role nuclear energy plays in protecting climate have had enough.

      • Bill Clawson

        My concerns come from an engineering perspective. Having a system that doesn’t exactly shut down after you hit the “off switch” is problematic. As I have stated in several spots, it’s the implementation that concerns me. Devil in the details, sort of thing. But compared to Coal-Fired plants, nukes are much better.

        • Bob Meinetz

          That’s one of the benefits of the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR), which was ready for production when Bill Clinton pulled the plug on it in 1994. Engineers deliberately turned off cooling water to one at Idaho National Laboratory, and the reactor shut down automatically without any power assist whatsoever.

          An IFR mounted in Diablo Canyon’s shell could run – safely – on the spent fuel (“waste”) stored onsite for 900 years without generating an ounce of carbon emissions. Really.

          • Bill Clawson

            Very cool. I assume that’s a breeder (haven’t researched it yet) so it would continue to use up the plutonium as well as uranium, which makes your nuclear power all that more efficient fuel-wise).

            Do you have an opinion on ADS reactors as a means of reducing long lived radioactive waste?

          • Bob Meinetz

            I had never heard of ADS reactors before, had to do some investigation. From what I can see – very interesting. There are any number of thorium breeders (including molten salt) which essentially render fuel cost insignificant. As you’re probably aware thorium is everywhere – once the match is “lit”, they could, in theory, run indefinitely.

            Yes, IFRs are breeders and programs are popping up all over the world – except in the U.S. If we can’t turn the current trend around we will be left behind.

        • Brux

          Totally agree, the people that designed and implemented the early nuclear powerplants did the whole planet a huge disservice, and one must wonder if they were infiltrated and paid to do an incompetent job.

          Even back then engineers understood about the deadman concept, that if power, management, or anything happens to the plant it should shut down gracefully and be stable even if it is blown up by a bomb. Anything else should have been considered a breach of the public trust.

          I could hardly believe what I was hearing when I am the whole world listened to the news explaining, as best it could, why Fukushima was in the fix it was … can human beings be any more idiotic, and this was first American idiocy, but even the Japanese is what scares me. Japanese engineering has been so rock solid for decades. What was the deal over there?

          The issue is no longer really nuclear power it is the trust in the corporations and the people who run them and make decisions … and if they are that bad in nuclear engineering … just imagine how crappy everything else rely on is.

  • chriswinter

    A lot of nonsense gets thrown around in the debates over nuclear power — and, to be fair, both pro-nuke and anti-nuke advocates produce some. But there’s one bit of nonsense that in my opinion is so risibly nonsensical as to deserve permanent banishment from these debates. That is the argument that nuclear plants are not carbon-free because carbon is released in building them, in making the concrete and steel that go into them, in mining, processing, and transporting the fuel for them, and in decommissioning the plants at end-of-life.

    All of this is perfectly true, of course. But it is also true for coal-fired power plants. In addition, once the coal-fired plants are built, they will release billions of tons of carbon during their lifetimes. Millions more will be released mining and transporting the coal, which is needed in huge amounts every day. Coal plants release toxic waste by design, while nuclear plants do so only by accident.* Finally, a coal plant must also be decommissioned at end-of-life, and such decommissioning will involve the handling of a large amount of coal ash which typically has been stored in the open, and which has sometimes escaped from its storage.

    * With the possible exception of radioactive xenon, a gas which disperses quickly to negligible exposure levels.

    So feel free to criticize nuclear power; it does have its problems. But please stop using this dumb argument to do so.

    • SFMike1

      Why is it a choice between nuclear and coal only? I believe this to be a false choice presented to bolster your argument for nuclear power. If you insist on forcing it to a choice between nuclear and fossil fuel, why coal and not natural gas? Answer: you pick the dirtiest option to make your case seem so much more obvious that it is. A bit of nonsense on your part.

      • chriswinter

        It’s not a choice between only coal and nuclear power — it’s a complaint about a dumb argument against nuclear. Your arguments here make me suspect your ability to recognize nonsense.

    • Bill_Woods

      Solar panels don’t grow on trees either.

  • Great show, Michael. Excellent guests. Very much appreciated Lauren’s contribution as the “neutral journalist.” I hope you have more shows on this topic.

    Just to clarify one of Mr. Schellenberger’s comments on the amount of energy contributed by nuclear power, he stated it was 23 percent. That would be from PG&E’s energy portfolio last year, noted here:
    http://www.pge.com/en/about/environment/pge/cleanenergy/index.page

    However, from a statewide perspective, in 2014 it was 8.5 percent.
    http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/electricity/total_system_power.html

  • Bob Meinetz

    Never has a bigger scam been perpetrated on Californians than the current takeover of our state’s electricity by Big Oil – or more correctly, Big “Natural Gas”.

    Because there is no possible way “renewables” can make up for Diablo Canyon’s carbon-free generation, shutting down the plant will add 8 million tons of carbon emissions to California’s profile. Residents who think this move benefits anyone but Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Sempra Energy, and other fossil fuel interests haven’t been paying attention – that’s exactly what happened when San Onofre was closed, and now ratepayers are being hit with $billions in higher rates for decommissioning and “natural gas” (methane) costs.

    For the first time in history, solar generated just over 1% of American electricity year-to-date. That’s including all the solar panels and utility-scale solar farms in the country, an achievement which can best be described as pathetic if we’re serious about addressing climate change. To “renewables” advocates: your good intentions are only building more fossil fuel plants, ones which will be destroying climate and acidifying the world’s oceans for decades to come. Please get out of the way, and let people run the show who have some understanding of energy, of climate, and the corrupt influences at work here.

  • Dr. A. Cannara

    The Governor’s ambitious GHG plans cannot be met without Diablo, and without restoring San Onofre to operation.

    I encourage all to visit CAISO in Folsom, to see how much they depend on Diablo to provide their base of clean energy.

    Our state has become controlled by gas interests, as even the CEC head Weisenmiller has admitted in relation to our Legislature’s guidance to our regulators. As a result, there have been increasing failures to protect citizens, as in San Bruno and Porter Ranch. The lack of proper gas regulation even caused the Aliso Canyon leak to wipe out all GHG-reduction benefits of all win/solar ‘green’ energy deployments in Calif.

    The CAISO daily graphic shows why other states — latest Utah — put nuclear into their 0-emissins sources (our RPS)..
    http://www.caiso.com/outlook/SystemStatus.html

    Note how the “net demand” and base of 24/7 California load start at >20GW (>8 Diablo Canyons or San Onofres). The Draft agreement doesn’t even bother to add its own numbers up. If it did, it would come to the conclusion that more, not less, nuclear power is needed in California. Sweden is currently doing about that.

    NRDC and FoE have demonstrated their lack of commitment to fact and to our descendants’ and all species’ futures. But what to expect from folks who get combustion-industry help, eh?

    Our state was given a well-researched plan in 2011, even co-authored by a Nobel physicist…
    https://ccst.us/publications/2011/2011energy.pdf

    It recommended 33% nuclear power. It was ignored by our CEC, CPUC, Legislature and administration..

    So, while California is dominated by gas interests, leaks, fracking and feckless regulators, the rest of the world is taking GHG emissions seriously and advancing nuclear power, as James Hansen, Tom Wigley, James Lovelock… and even the Dalai Lama advise*…
    http://le.utah.gov/~2009/bills/static/HB0430.html
    http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/06/sweden-will-build-ten-new-nuclear.html
    http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/can-states-expand-renewable-portfolio-standards-to-include-all-low-carbon-t
    http://www.news-gazette.com/opinion/guest-commentary/2016-04-17/reducing-carbon-emissions-right-way.html

    KQED could do a true service by delivering a program to us that displays the sad facts about California’s energy/emissions business influences (FoE & NRDC are businesses). We’re now on a path to follow Germany in showing the world what not to do. Our descendants rightly expect more of us.

    Dr. A. Cannara
    650 400 3071

    * Scientists…

    http://tinyurl.com/kn22qcn (Hansen, Caldeira, Emanuel, Wigley)
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2486894/Scientists-urge-climate-groups-nuclear-power-warn-wind-solar-fulfil-worlds-energy-needs.html
    http://decarbonisesa.com/2014/06/30/another-climate-scientist-joins-calls-for-nuclear/
    http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/scientists-tell-greenies-embrace-nuclear-save-plan/2502717/
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXTPKGuQhzQ&feature=youtu.be
    http://www.science20.com/news_articles/james_hansen_to_mitigate_climate_change_nuclear_energy_should_be_included-154923
    http://tinyurl.com/m5qp8vf
    http://tinyurl.com/necct2l
    (Hansen vs Big Green) http://tinyurl.com/nh3bsh6
    “I also recommend that the public stop providing funds to anti nuke environmental groups. Send a letter saying why you are withdrawing your support. Their position is based partly on fear of losing support from anti-nuke donors, and they are not likely to listen to anything other than financial pressure. If they are allowed to continue to spread misinformation about nuclear power, it is unlikely that we can stop expanded hydro-fracking, continued destructive coal mining, and irreversible climate change.”

    http://epillinois.org/news/2016/4/6/james-hansen-condemns-bernie-sanders-fear-mongering-against-indian-point
    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/24/more-views-on-nuclear-power-waste-safety-and-cost/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1
    http://www.slideshare.net/Revkin/dot-nuclear-1-2214-lettersigned-by-4-nuclear-scientists-and-engineers
    https://www.facebook.com/download/823098194404759/An-Open-Letter-to-Environmentalists.pdf
    http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/news/10.1063/PT.4.2433

    Dalai Lama…
    http://tinyurl.com/82o6etd

  • Bill Clawson

    FWIW, here is a data source for Life Cycle Assesment, a comparison of Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions vs Energy Produced. Obviously Solar doesn’t emit GHGs by itself, but the cell and panel manufacturing, site construction, and associated transportation, etc. do. So solar, in its own way, does emit GHGs.

    http://en.openei.org/apps/LCA/

    In this study, Nuclear energy does edge out solar (PV solar, especially), but not by much. When compared to Natural Gas, Coal, and Oil, both solar and nuclear are in the same general category of substantial improvement. I hate acrimonious discussions, as they never change points of view. Give me the data first and let me decide who’s right or wrong for myself.

  • Eric Meyer

    If Sierra Club, FOE, and NRDC don’t stop lobbying to increase carbon emissions and pollution we need to start calling them what they really are: Anti-Environmentalist groups.

  • Brux

    This one plant provides about 10% of California’s power … and it is carbon-free power.

    How stupid can environmentalists be. Not only should this plant not be closed by the
    other one, San Onofre (sp?) should be re-opened, and we should build more.

    Fukushima was an absolute horror, but we have moved into a state in the world where
    anything we do is an absolute horror – including doing nothing.

    Fix nuclear power, get it working, get experience with it, work out the bugs. There has
    not been major disease from Fukushima, nor from the 2000 bombs that our idiot countries
    have exploded in the atmosphere.

    I don’t like radiation and pollution any more than anyone else, but these are solid
    plants that do not create any carbon emissions?

  • WhatTheFlux

    This is madness — faux-environmentalism at its finest.

    Diablo is being replaced with gas because fast-ramping power plants are needed to back up intermittent wind and solar. And since it will take decades of building enough wind and solar farms before they can back each other up, gas will be doing the backup for many years to come. And it leaks.

    In fact, methane has such a strong GWP (global warming potential) that a 4% leak makes a gas plant as bad for the climate as a coal plant. (See link below.)

    California has an ongoing statewide 1.3% leak (without Porter Ranch), which means the state is one third of the way to the “Worth-It Threshold” — the point where wind and solar is no longer worth it, and you might as well just be burning coal.

    Another way of saying it: a third of the climate benefits hoped for by California’s gas-backed wind and solar is — and will be — going right down the drain, no matter how efficiently the wind and solar farms are built and managed.

    See:

  • grumpy

    Sad to see Sierra Club’s Michael Brune still lying about the relative safety record of nuclear power. (See recent letter in WSJ.) What objective statistic makes nuclear power “dangerous” in comparison to alternatives?

    In truth I think concerns about fission and waste are moot because LENR will work within 3 years. But I’m still concerned about the intellectual dishonesty and cult of denial about the nuclear safety record. I’m concerned about the willful destruction of our largest source of clean energy by so-called environmentalists.

    While there have been accidents, they have killed almost nobody according to the scientific consensus at the World Health Organization, which says 60 people died from radiation at Chernobyl and 0 so far at Fukushima. Weapons related nuclear activities did and will cause casualties, often unfairly conflated with power production. Sadly there is a lunatic fringe who cling to LNT assumptions made before the discovery of DNA about radiation risk, as exemplified by the UCS’s Dave Lochbaum. He makes as much sense as a climate denier, which I suspect he is, because he never expresses any concern for the climate when hand-wringing about his insanely impossible scenarios of lethal waste-leaks.

    Nuclear power is far safer per megawatt than wind or even solar for worker-deaths. Headline hype from innumerate “it bleeds it leads” editors should not cause the Sierra Club to take leave of it’s sense of perspective.

    While there is a potential for larger accidents, such a “catastrophe” would still pale in comparison to the regular annual death toll from air pollution from fossil fuels. The Sierra club is encouraging murderously stupid decisions in Germany and California, where we chose to burn more dangerous fossil fuels such as brown lignite coal instead of clean nuclear. This probably kills hundreds of extra people per year in Germany. California’s record of catastrophic methane leaks is even worse, climate wise, so the death toll is masked, many years in the future, but inevitable if we do not rapidly remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and ocean. Murdering people in the future is still unethical.

    Brune pretends that wind and solar are emissions free when in fact they are between 30% and 60% frack gas or coal. Someday renewables may be emissions free if can are firmed up by nuclear or battery storage.

    AFTER WE REPLACE existing nuclear with clean renewables not backed up with gas, we could shut down existing nuclear— IF we can convince ourselves that we can also solve ocean acidification’s 2050 hard-stop that way, along with avoiding other known catastrophic tipping points. We have a chance to solve climate and the economy with renewables-only. But I don’t take chances with the only planet I can live on. I haven’t got a ticket to Mars, and I hear its atmosphere has lethal levels of CO2 already.

    I cannot defend the poor management of “Atoms for Peace”. I believe that safer tech, such as MSR with Thorium, could have prevented us from being blindsided by weapon-making in power or research reactors. It is said that Thorium->U233->bomb materials path is impossible to hide due to obvious radiation signature. No one has tried more than once.
    Uselessness for weapons work is I think the main reason MSR has not been commercialized. But Terrestrial Energy and ThorCon are making headway.

    All risks must be balanced. During the cold war I was antinuclear due to risk of USA/USSR nuclear war, potentially killing 10^9 people if not everybody. I felt the need to oppose the dual-purpose Nuclear industry with a full-court-press.

    While North Korea’s or Iran’s potential to do something really lethal and stupid is scary- it is orders of magnitude less scary that a superpower exchange. A small nuclear power could kill 10^6 or 10^7 people. But that is still comparable to the annual air pollution death toll. And 10x or 100x less than I expect to die from climate collapse. I would chose the bird-in-the-hand, saving lives from air pollution, over the hypothetical risks. One of the best ways to avoid war is steadily improving economic prospects for the population at large, which cheap clean energy enables.

    Given that 1/8 of all deaths are from air pollution, maybe 1/16 are from fossil fuels, that’s 1/2000th of the people you know dieing EVERY YEAR needlessly. Neglecting climate induced deaths. And UCS’s Dave Lochbaum just doesn’t care. We could save enormous numbers of lives with max expansion of nuclear in the developed world. If America went to 80% nuclear like France instead of 20% there would be very little additional proliferation or waste risk. If we used MSR reactors proliferation and waste risk would be REDUCED because LWR “waste” can be used as fuel. And we could do it quickly and cheaply.

    IT IS EVIL TO DESTROY OUR BIGGEST SOURCE OF CLEAN ENERGY before replacing it with something better. NRDC’s attack on Diablo Canyon will increase greenhouse gases, and cause untold deaths in the future. It’s very unlikely that wind/solar will have put us on a certain path towards evading climate collapse by 2025, so that we could shut down Diablo responsibly. We could get that lucky, but today’s decision to shut down clean energy isn’t gated by success in replacing it with clean energy. We will replace Diablo with something, gas, coal or renewables, whichever is cheapest and politically feasible in 2025.

  • Diablo Canyon spent nuclear fuel canisters are only 1/2″ thick and were found to have all the conditions for cracking in a 2-year old canister. They don’t know if it’s cracking because they have no technology to inspect for cracks once thin canisters are filled with nuclear waste. Each canister contains more highly radioactive Cesium-137 than released from Chernobyl. The President and CEO of Holtec, Dr. Singh, who makes the canisters says even if you could find cracks, even a microscopic crack will release millions of curies of radiation; and it’s not feasible to repair them, even if you could, because this introduces another area for cracking. Watch for yourself http://youtu.be/euaFZt0YPi4 Go to SanOnofreSafety.org for more details, including government and scientific documents, including from national labs used by the nuclear industry and government agencies.

    The NRC reported the Koeberg nuclear plant had a waste water tank (considered comparable to thin canisters) leak in 17 years from cracks up to 0.61″ deep — deeper than the Diablo 0.50″ canister walls. PG&E has no approved plan in place to deal with a leaking canister. We will only know about this problem after it leaks radiation into the environment. There is the potential for explosions once air reaches the nuclear fuel inside. There are over 2000 of these “Chernobyl” cans in the U.S. Most have not been in use long enough for any cracks to grow through the wall of the canisters. These are ticking time bombs with no adequate monitoring or system in place to prevent this. If that had been an exploding or leaking nuclear spent fuel canister at San Bruno, we would be permanently evacuating San Francisco. The radiation will go where the wind blows.

    Mark Lombard, NRC Director of Spent Fuel Management and the utiltities and vendors all know this, but they are deceiving the public and the decision makers. Coastal Commissioner Mary Shallenberger caught Mark in a deception at the Coastal Commission. He finally admitted inspecting the outside of these canisters for cracks or knowing depths of cracks “is not a now thing”. Here is the short video. https://youtu.be/QtFs9u5Z2CA Here’s a longer version with more questioning from Commissioner Shallenberger. She is shocked the NRC would approve nuclear waste canisters that cannot be inspected. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NusMshp6mk4 The Coastal Commission wants Southern California Edison to fix all these problems by 20 years AFTER installation. Something that is not even possible. Also, canisters with even partial cracks cannot be transported. And there is no seismic rating for cracking canisters.

    I was a presenter at the NRC Annual 2014 Spent Fuel Management Conference where Mark tried to tell me they could inspect the canisters. Watch this and you can see where he tries to claim that. https://youtu.be/KvAbDX0R2Eg

    I recommend KQED do some fact checking on both Shellenberger and Damon Mogel. How many lies are acceptable before KQED will consider a guest not credible and quit giving them air time. If you do this, I think you’ll find Shellenberger is full of hot air. Unfortunately, that is not carbon free.

  • karaj lost coast

    original song about fukushima, and the ‘buddha of the forbidden zone’ who stayed behind after it was evacuated, to care for the abandoned animals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPHY-XYH6is

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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