California is scrambling to fix its anti-nuclear mistake

Opinion by Zachary Faria 

California Democrats are just now realizing that they have made a huge mistake in energy policy, and reality is once again rubbing their noses in it.

This time, reality takes the form of federal regulators, who have spiked the state’s attempt to fast-track the extension of the life of its last nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon.

In 2009, Pacific Gas and Electric submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the plant’s operations. That application was withdrawn when PG&E announced in 2016 that it would begin preparing to shut down the plant, in keeping with California’s goal of eliminating nuclear energy and relying on renewable energy.

But California’s grid is already fragile, with rolling blackouts a yearly occurrence now. This soon-to-be shuttered nuclear plant, which provides 9% of the state’s energy on its own, is crucial to the consistent delivery of electricity. And that’s before California forces all of its drivers to purchase and use electric vehicles, which will require a massive and perhaps impossible increase in generating capacity.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has belatedly recognized the state’s mistake, and wishes to extend the life of the Diablo Canyon plant. So PG&E requested that the NRC reconsider its withdrawn application. Regulators rejected the request. Diablo Canyon’s two reactors will expire in the next two years, and California is stuck. The application process must begin anew.

None of this is a surprise. Only California Democrats and the hippie-holdover zealots who drive the party thought it was a good idea to jettison nuclear energy. Large populations cannot depend upon wind and solar, given that both forms of energy are unreliable by their nature. Nuclear energy could solve all the climate woes that Democrats claim to be so worried about, but environmentalists don’t like it. California Democrats played along with this prejudice, until they realized that the state’s failing energy system could collapse without the aid of just one nuclear plant.

Newsom’s realization was too little, too late. While he eyes a possible White House run, he will abandon California to an uncertain energy future, made worse by his compliance with environmentalist dogma. Californians will be worse off over the next decade when it comes to energy, thanks to Newsom and his Democratic colleagues. Even Newsom knows it.

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