With the Diablo Canyon's permits expiring by 2024, the threat of nuclear power in California is lifting. Few recall the tens of thousands of protesters rallying against the plant at the height of the fervent "No Nukes" movement of the times. Tragically, the nuclear lobby is gaining ground by apologists who claim that it's clean if radioactive energy needed as a "renewable" resource.
For now, Governor Jerry Brown and his Sacramento team can claim vindication for the work of a lifetime. Diablo's closure is sending tremors through the nuclear industry where several plants face considerable problems with safety and cost.
California is on track, step by step, to be a 100 percent renewable energy economy and simultaneously phase out its last nuclear plant, a powerful message to the world. Many of us remember the utilities planning to install 65 plants on the California coastline, the nearest to our home was scheduled for Corral Canyon in Malibu. The first to face decommissioning was the San Onofre plant in San Diego, in 2013, strangled in economic and organizational crises.
Diablo Canyon was sited atop the hazardous Hosgri fault line, which was not discovered until three years after construction began. Kudos are deserved by Dan Hirsch, the long-serving watchdog on the nuclear power industry in Los Angeles. Ever cautious, Hirsch reminded the public that the Diablo plant will continue operating for another eight years. The cost to California consumers and taxpayers are sure to cost many millions. Decommissioning will take years.
The Campaign for Economic Democracy fought through two campaigns to shut down nuclear power at the Rancho Seco plant, the first closure achieved through democratic elections in 1989. CED's Bob Mulholland and Ed Smeloff led that struggle, and today the public utility in Sacramento delivers affordable green energy with successes in efficiency.
A new generation needs to hear the news, and the lesson that change often requires a frustrating lifetime to achieve. That's why the next wave of propaganda will blame the environmentalists for causing power outages this summer. That means the transition to clean energy has to accelerate now. The official narrative suggests that nuclear power will keep us safe, until another Fukushima strikes.
The California message to the world is that a safe transition to renewables and efficiency is achievable without nuclear power. The message and legacy need to be preserved for the next generation.