The environmental group suffers a setback in the legal battle to close Diablo Canyon

A California judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit brought by an environmental group that sought to prevent the state’s largest corporation from seeking to extend the operational life of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.

Earth Friends Lawsuit in state supreme court in April, hoping to block a state-backed proposal to keep the double-dome plant operating for at least five more years. The group was part of a 2016 agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric to shut down the last nuclear power plant in the state by 2025.

Amid concerns about energy supplies in a changing climate, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature said I opened the way For PG&E to seek longer life last year. In legal filings, the environmental group alleged that the 2016 agreement to shut down the reactors was “not fully voided” and that the facility would breach what it called a binding contract if it asked federal regulators to extend operating licenses.

In an 18-page ruling, Judge Ethan P. Schulman dismissed the complaint, agreeing with the company that Friends of the Earth were asking the court to “impede or impermissibly interfere” with the state’s regulatory oversight of the coastal plant, located midway between San Francisco. and Los Angeles.

If the group’s request is granted, the court would come into conflict with state regulators, which would “entrap the court in complex issues of energy, economic policy, and the environment” that the California Public Utilities Commission and other agencies would best deal with. . Shulman Books.

The group said it may appeal.

“The fight to close Diablo Canyon is far from over,” Haley Templeton, legal director for Friends of the Earth, said in a statement. The group has a separate case pending in federal court relating to regulatory issues linked to the operation of the plant and possible license extensions.

In a statement, PG&E spokeswoman Susan Hassan said the company follows California energy policy and “our actions toward relicensing the Diablo Canyon Power Plant are consistent with the state’s direction.”

operating license for Unit 1 reactor Expire next year, and Unit 2 The license expires in 2025. The company intends to file an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the end of the year to extend its operations for up to two decades.

California is the cradle of the modern environmental movement and for decades has had a fraught relationship with nuclear power, which does not produce carbon pollution like fossil fuels but leaves behind waste that can remain. dangerously radioactive for centuries. Newsom’s administration is seeking to expand use of solar and other clean energy sources as the state aims to cut emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.

Newsom’s decision last year to support longer runs Diablo Canyon shocked environmentalists and anti-nuclear advocates because it was once a leading voice for plant closures.

The lawsuit marks another milestone in a drawn-out battle over the operation and safety of the decades-old plant, which Newsom says must continue to operate after 2025 to avoid potential blackouts as California transitions to solar and other renewables.

Diablo Canyon produces 9% of the state’s electricity.

At this point, it is not clear if the reactors will continue to operate after their licenses expire in 2024 and 2025 — and if so, for how long — as many regulatory and legal hurdles remain.

For example, the long-term cost of modernizing the plant is not yet known because PG&E has been preparing to close it for years. The state could consider rolling back if capital costs rise to more than $1.4 billion — the amount of the forgivable loan the state allowed PG&E last year as part of the legislative plan to keep the reactors running.

Construction on Diablo Canyon began in the 1960s. Critics say potential earthquakes from nearby faults were not known to exist when the design was approved It can damage equipment and release radiation. Not a single fault was discovered until 2008. PG&E has long said the plant is safe, an assessment backed by the NRC.

The US nuclear industry has gone through a rough patch, with reactor retirements and a declining share of energy production since 2012. But many industry leaders We see a renaissance on the horizon. Climate change has drawn attention to carbon-neutral energy.

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