Celebrating A Nuclear Win and the Village that Created It

Diablo Canyon has been saved—for now! Rather than allowing this clean energy producing power plant to be wastefully decommissioned by those who simply dislike nuclear power, the California legislature, under the leadership of Governor Gavin Newsom, voted to extend its life by up to 10 years. Senate Bill 846, sponsored by Jordan Cunningham (CA-25, R), passed with nearly unanimous votes in both the Democratically-controlled Assembly and Senate. SB 846 also provides for as much as $1.4 billion in loans from California to PG&E for re-licensing and enables PG&E to also submit a timely application to the DOE’s Civil Nuclear Credit program for further aid in re-starting licensing with the NRC and transitioning back to full-operating mode. This is a nearly miraculous win for California’s pronuclear advocates and it is worth celebrating both the win and the broader community that made it possible.

While there are a lot of individuals and organizations who contributed to setting the stage for this phenomenal political win for nuclear power in general and Diablo Canyon specifically, there were also considerable underlying political realities that effectively forced the Governor’s hand. In particular, the state’s own energy experts from CALISO, CEC, as well as academia and industry, expressed extreme alarm at the high level of fragility of the grid and the high risk of power outages even with Diablo Canyon operating. The closure of Diablo Canyon was clearly going to exacerbate the already bad situation. Climate change and state clean energy mandates made the CPUC’s plan to replace Diablo Canyon’s clean energy with dirty coal power from PacifiCorp anathema to the both the state’s goals and the Governor’s political reputation. Meanwhile, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has resulted in dire energy shortages in Europe and rising gas prices. This is making the world’s growing reliance on natural gas both uneconomical and politically unsavory.

With that as the political and economic backdrop, we wish to take a look at some of the individuals and groups that took on prominent roles advocating for nuclear power in general and for Diablo Canyon specifically. Some of these groups worked behind the scenes and some played highly prominent roles. The press has recognized the advocacy of the San Luis Obispo-based Mothers for Nuclear, which has consistently stood up for Diablo Canyon at local hearings, rallies and in the press.  This mom-led non-profit further coordinated with Isabelle Boemeke, a model-turned “nuclear influencer,” whose online presence “Isodope,” introduced a witty, stylish and slightly snarky approach to pronuclear advocacy, sharing her frank messaging with a new generation. Together, they organized several recent and memorable public events, a rally on behalf of Diablo Canyon and the issuance of letter to Governor Newsom signed by 79 prominent scientific experts. As impactful as both of those campaigns were, their success rested upon a foundation of public opinion that had grown stronger due to very considerable contributions from the following very notable individuals and groups:

The Pronuclear Village

(Click to enlarge.)

Nuclear-Focused Writers

James Conca, Forbes
Robert Bryce,  Forbes and other
Michael Shellenberger, Forbes, Environmental Progress
Rod Adams,  Atomic Insights
Catherine Clifford, CNBC

Academics & Scientists

Dr, James Hansen, Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions, at the Earth Institute of Columbia University
Dr. Todd Allen, University of Michigan
Dr. Jacopo Buongiorno, MIT
Dr. Steven Chu,  Stanford University
Dr. Jesse Jenkins, Princeton
Dr. Jessica Lovering,  University of Colorado, Boulder
Also, another 75 or so who signed the February 2022 letter to Governor Newsom

Non-Profits & Think Tanks

The Breakthrough Institute, Ted Nordhaus
Clean Air Task Force,  Armond Cohen
Californians for Green Nuclear Power, Carl Wurtz, Dr. Gene Nelson
Anthropocene Institute, Carl Page
The Long Now, Stewart Brand
Energy for Humanity, Kirsty Gogan
Nuclear Innovation Alliance, Judi Greenwald
TerraPraxis, Erik Ingersoll, Kirsty Gogan
Good Energy Collective, Dr. Jessica Lovering, Suzy Hobbs Baker, Dr. Rachel Slaybaugh
Energy Impact Center, Bret Kugelmass
Energy for Humanity, Kirsty Gogan
Fastest Path to Zero, Dr. Todd Allen, at the University of Michigan
Climate Protection & Restoration Initiative, Dr. James Hansen, Donn J. Viviani and others
The Nature Conservancy, Mark Tercek
The World Resources Institute

Podcasters

Titans of Nuclear, Bret Kugelmass
The Atomic Show, Rod Adams
Decouple Podcast, Dr. Chris Keefer
Energy Impact Podcast, Bret Kugelmass
Climate Fix, Colby & Phil
Columbia Energy Exchange, Jason Bordoff, Bill Lovelass
Cowen’s Energy Transition Podcast, Marc Bianchi

Organizers & Advocates

Environmental Progress, Michael Shellenberger
Mothers for Nuclear, Heather Hoff and Kirstin Zaitz
Save Clean Energy, Isabelle Boemeke
Generation Atomic, Eric Meyers
Campaign for a Green Nuclear Deal, Madison Hilly
Stand Up for Nuclear, Paris Ortiz-Wines
Emergency Reactor, Zion Lights
Climate Coalition,  Valerie Gardner, Gary Kahanak
Nuclear New York, Dr. Dietmar Detering, Isuru Seneviratne
US Nuclear Industry:  NEI, ANS, USNIC, NIA, INPO, etc.
International:  IPCC, WNA, IAEA, WNN, etc.

Artists & Authors

Robert Stone, Pandora’s Promise (documentary)
Dave Schumacher, The New Fire (documentary)
Robert Bryce, Juice (documentary) and author of “A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations”
Oliver Stone, Nuclear: Time to Look Again (a new documentary, being released now)
Joshua Goldstein, “A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow”
Meredith Angwin, “Shorting the Grid: The Hidden Fragility of our Electric Grid” and “Campaigning for Clean Air”
Dr. Robert Hargraves, author of “Thorium, Energy Cheaper than Coal”
Michael Bloomberg, co-author of “Climate of Hope”
Gwyneth Cravens, author of “Power to Save the World: The Truth about Nuclear Energy”
Mathijs Beckers, author of “Highway to Dystopia: About spaceship Earth, Climate Change and more”
Isabelle Boemeke, creator of the “Isodope” TicTok videos and tweets
Baba Brinkman, Nuclear/Science rapper

Influencers

Stewart Brand, The Whole Earth Catalog
Californians for Green Nuclear Power, Dr. Gene Nelson
What is Nuclear, Nick Touran
Radiant Energy,  Mark Nelson
Thorium Energy Alliance,  John Kutsch
Google,  Ross Koningstein (IEEE, White Papers)
D.J. LeClear, The Rad Guy
TEA,  Silicon Valley,  Alex Cannara
Save Clean Energy, Isabelle Boemeke
Citizen’s Climate Lobby,  Jim Hopf (Nuclear group)
4th Generation Blog, Canon Bryan, Amelia Tiemann
Rethinking Nuclear, Richard Steeves

Politicians & Biden Admin

Trump Administration & Congress, laid a foundation with the passage of NEIMA & NEICA
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, loudly pronuclear
Senator Cory Booker, introduced his support of nuclear power during the 2019 Primary Climate Debates
President Joe Biden, ushered in the Energy Bill of 2020,  which funded the Advanced Reactor Development Program (ARDP), to accelerate commercialization of the next generation of reactors
Dept. of Energy, Secr. of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, worked overtime to introduce the Civil Nuclear Credit program in a timely way, plus, she has posted many great videos about the need for nuclear to address climate
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has expressed her support for the protection of the Palisades Nuclear Power plant and now for Holtec’s application to restart it
The Infrastructure & Jobs Act, set up the Civil Nuclear Credit Program, with a $6 billion fund to save nuclear power plants, such as Palisades and Diablo Canyon
Representative Elaine Luria, has introduced a bevy of important nuclear energy bills, including the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (’19), Nuclear Power Purchase Agreements Act (’21), and Fueling our Nuclear Future Act (’22)
All of Congress, has used voice votes to approve key pronuclear pieces of legislation
Senator Diane Feinstein, wrote about her support for Diablo Canyon in a number of OpEds
DOE’s Loan Program Office (LPO), under the leadership of Jigar Shah, has been working to provide Government-guaranteed loans to key projects

Funders

There is a small but dedicated community of funders who have shown a willing to support many of the above non-profits, as well as the various artistic and advocacy campaign initiatives.  We are greatful to them, as they have allowed much of the work that others have not been willing to fund, to be produced.

[Please note: All of the above listed groups have websites that are available online. Legislation is all searchable. We are not able to provide links for every group but have provided for some that may be harder to find. If you have trouble finding information you need, please reach out through our contact form. We have had a prime seat for the last decade or so to follow the events but we cannot possibly include everyone or every group that is active in this space. However, if you think we have omitted an important contributor who should be listed as having had a meaningful impact on the decision to save Diablo Canyon, please use the comment box below to send us a private message.]

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