Lt. Governor Newsom orders review of California's Nuclear and Energy Future


(Sacramento) - California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom today directed the State Lands Commission to make a broad environmental determination on a lease renewal application by PG&E's Diablo Canyon power plant near San Luis Obispo, California's last operational nuclear power plant.

Lt. Governor Newsom, current Chair of the Commission, cited the exceptional circumstances of the power station, which straddles the coastline among a patchwork of recently identified seismic fault lines. However, Lt. Governor Newsom also asked staff to frame the review within the context of California's long-term energy goals, including recent codification of the goals laid out in Governor Brown's January 2015 inaugural address, to generate half of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

"On the one hand we have Fukushima etched in our memories, and on the other hand we are tackling fossil-fuel driven climate change. This is incredibly complex and of no surprise that decisions have been avoided," said Lt. Governor Newsom. "If we could decommission Diablo Canyon and replace it with an equivalent portfolio of renewable energy sources tomorrow, I would call for it. And while that is not a realistic option before us today, it is beyond time that we begin answering what California's energy future could look like without nuclear power."

The agenda item before the State Lands Commission was the consideration of a lease application for the continued use of state property for the intake and outfall facilities associated with the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. The application seeks a new lease for a limited term to coincide with the expiration of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licenses in 2024.

This facility, including the offshore structures, has never been evaluated under the California Environmental Quality Act. Lt. Governor Newsom stated that lease application should not be narrowly analyzed and should not avoid a comprehensive discussion on the broader implications associated with the future of the Diablo Canyon plant, particularly involving the various public safety and environmental issues and a long-term vision of the state's energy needs and resources.

Lt. Governor Newsom directed staff to complete their evaluation and return to the Commission in February with recommendations detailing the framework in which staff should pursue an analysis summarizing relevant state and local permitting considerations; identifying public safety and environmental issues; describing the state's energy needs; and identifying critical data gaps regarding the future of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. The purpose of this last request is to move towards providing a larger policy context to help inform the Commission in its decision-making