California Embraces Another Zero-Carbon Bill

In the latest move to fight climate change, Governor Brown signed a bill protecting the environment, workers, and local communities during the shutdown process of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, which sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Under Senate Bill 1090, which Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Monday, California’s last remaining nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, will be replaced by zero-carbon energy efficiency and renewable energy options. Not only that, the new law allocates $350 million for an employee retention program as well as $85 million toward mitigating community impacts for the surrounding San Luis Obispo area—necessary for providing adequate staffing and emergency services through the end of the plant’s life.

“Governor Brown made climate history again today,” says Ralph Cavanagh, a codirector of NRDC’s Climate & Clean Energy program. “This groundbreaking legislation also ensures that we account for the full impact of the plant’s closure on the workers and surrounding communities.”

In 2016, NRDC, with partners, led negotiations with Diablo Canyon’s owner, Pacific Gas & Electric, to replace the reactor’s output with non-polluting resources. Through the new law, California is one step closer to meeting the climate change goal that half the electricity in the state must come from clean, renewable energy by 2030. Plus, NRDC estimates that Diablo Canyon’s closing will save Californians at least $1 billion, because it would cost more to refurbish the aging plant than to replace the nuclear power with clean energy.

“Once again, the governor has given the world an inspiring climate and clean energy model,” Cavanagh says. “This one is a shining example of best practices for planning for the closure of giant, expensive, and inflexible nuclear plants.”

About the Authors

Join Us

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.