In December 2015 and during the heat of the controversy in California over whether to shut down or re-license the state’s last operating nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon, Fairewinds President Maggie Gundersen and Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen were in California presenting to various colleges and universities. In this video, courtesy of EON News (Ecological Option Network), Arnie Gundersen speaks to an audience about the risk of atomic power at California Polytechnic State University. The ominous title of the presentation, “Expect the Unexpected”, is perhaps foreshadowing as certain audience members employed by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E, utility owner of Diablo Canyon) attempt to denounce the inconvenient truths of Arnie’s speech during the presentation’s follow-up Q&A. The PG&E trolls’ irrelevant and rude query comes back to haunt them as audience members come to the defense of Fairewinds’ truth-speak.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - “California, world’s sixth largest economy, going nuclear- free,” reads the headline of environmental group Friends of the Earth’s (FoE) breaking news announcing the imminent shutdown of Diablo Canyon and their unprecedented agreement with PG&E. Diablo Canyon will be allowed to complete its current licensed operation cycle but will shut down in 2025. Under the agreement with FoE and other environmental groups, PG&E has promised to replace the nuclear energy produced by Diablo Canyon with renewable energy like solar, wind, wave, and geothermal energy.
Fairewinds Energy Education is proud of our work during the past five years of speaking truth to power along the California coastline and working with Friends of the Earth and environmental groups like San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace by providing comprehensive reports that show the atomic meltdown risk imposed by aging Diablo Canyon’s placement amidst fault lines. Taking down trolls is no easy feat, but as we’ve seen in California, and thanks to the ceaseless oversight of environmental groups, truth CAN prevail.
“The big economic lesson here is that nuclear power’s ability to displace fossil-fueled generation is not simply about tons of carbon dioxide saved. Nuclear power also incurs an operating cost that for many reactors, including Diablo Canyon, has become very high. Saving and reinvesting that avoidable cost can buy a larger quantity of cheaper carbon-displacing resources, saving even more carbon. Nearly all commentators, even Bloomberg’s astute editorial board (twice), have overlooked this advantageous swap.”
-Dr. Amory Lovins, Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, Forbes article, June 22, 2016
In his latest article for Forbes, Dr. Amory Lovins takes on the claim promulgated by the nuclear industry and its advocates that although atomic power is too costly to be profitable, nuclear energy merits large subsidies because its protects the earth’s climate from fossil fuel use. As Dr. Lovins points out, “Arithmetic is not an opinion. So let’s do the math.” According to Diablo Canyon owner Pacific Gas and Electric’s deal with environmental groups, Diablo Canyon’s atomic output will be phased out for 8-9 years and will be replaced timely and cost effectively by renewables. In laymen’s terms, this means no more carbon emissions at an increasingly lower cost to ratepayers as nuclear energy phases out. “How much less? Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says at least $1 billion (net present value to 2044),” writes Dr. Lovins.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new radiation limits for the public that are at least twenty-five times higher than current exposure limits. As highlighted in an article for the local Santa Fe paper The New Mexican, these new guidelines would substantially increase the amount of radiation people can ingest the days and years following an atomic disaster. The EPA’s announcement came earlier this month and is open for public comment until July 25. Opponents of the EPA’s new proposal include individuals within the EPA who worry that the new limits would put public healthy in jeopardy. The EPA’s new radiation limits would allow radiation exposure of an individual equivalent to 250 chest X-rays each year without medical need or consent. Journalist Rebecca Moss notes that the implications of the EPA’s expanded radiation exposure limits pose a significant threat to the citizens of New Mexico whose home state has to two nuclear weapons research laboratories and the nation’s only permanent underground repository for radioactive waste, all of which were built near underground aquifers.