Once, nuclear power was seen as the greatest enemy of the environmentalist movement. For some of the old-timers, it still remains the ultimate bogeyman.
Others, however, are reconsidering it as a source of clean energy — to the point where California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom is keeping the state’s lone nuclear plant open.
According to TheBlaze, Newsom signed a bill Friday that extended a $1.4 billion loan to the Diablo Canyon plant in San Luis Obispo.
The reason? Good ol’ climate change.
“Climate change is causing unprecedented stress on California’s energy system and I appreciate the Legislature’s action to maintain energy reliability as the State accelerates the transition to clean energy,” Newsom said, Politico’s Jeremy B. White reported.
Specifically, the bill allocates $$$ to keep Diablo going another 5 years.
Gov: “Climate change is causing unprecedented stress on CA’s energy system and I appreciate the Legislature’s action to maintain energy reliability as the State accelerates the transition to clean energy”
— Jeremy B. White (@JeremyBWhite) September 3, 2022
The loan extends Diablo Canyon’s service life until 2030. Under California’s green energy plan, the plant had been scheduled to close in 2025.
The legislation comes as California has become ground zero for debates over the future of energy production over the summer.
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In August, the state announced it would ban sales of gas-powered cars by 2035. Just days later, TheBlaze noted, the state pleaded with California’s electric vehicle owners to stop charging them due to extreme spikes in energy usage.
The California Independent System Operator, the non-profit organization which manages the grid for most of California and some of Nevada, said at the time that “extreme heat” was “likely to strain the grid with increased energy demands, especially over the holiday weekend.”
“The power grid operator expects to call on Californians for voluntary energy conservation via Flex alerts over the long weekend,” CISO said. Flex Alerts are basically a way of begging residents to reduce energy usage between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.
“Set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, avoid using large appliances and charging electric vehicles, and turn off unnecessary lights,” the non-profit said.
The possibility of rolling blackouts underscored the dilemma environmentalists find themselves in: If they want to end reliance on fossil fuels, they’ll likely have to embrace nuclear energy.
After all, nuclear doesn’t cause greenhouse gas emissions. It’s safe and reliable. Even with just one plant in San Luis Obispo, California still generates roughly 5 percent of its energy through nuclear.
However, if the state wants to create cheap, available energy for its residents — particularly if it plans on phasing out gas-powered autos — solar, wind and other renewables aren’t going to make the grade.
Yet, there are plenty of bitter clingers against nuclear among the climate-change alarmist crowd.
Take Friends of the Earth. According to local Southern California outlet Dot.LA, Friends of the Earth — the group that convinced state legislatures to start phasing out Diablo Canyon six years ago — said the move was “reckless beyond belief” and took out digital ads warning that the plant “could expose millions to radiation.”
Their reasoning? It sits atop a fault line — not an uncommon thing in California. Neither are energy crises, however. Environmentalists have signed on to make them considerably worse in the coming decades — and there aren’t enough solar panels in Death Valley to change that.
If the radical green lobby wants to ditch fossil fuels (something I wouldn’t recommend, although I’m hardly going to be a welcome party at Friends of the Earth meetings), there are two options: One, nuclear. Two, forced austerity, in which Americans must ration massively expensive energy.
At least some environmentalists have gotten on board with nuclear energy. Others want unnecessary austerity, however. Perhaps they think it won’t affect them. Perhaps they think humanity has it coming.
Gavin Newsom may not be averse to most of the tenets these groups espouse, but he also needs to keep voters from turning on him. He’s made it clear which camp he belongs in. Expect other leftists to wake up to energy reality in the not-too-distant future, as well.