California Lawmakers Reject Newsom's $400M PG&E Budget Bid Amid Ongoing Political Standoff

By Madz Dizon

Jun 14, 2024 04:41 AM EDT

California Lawmakers Reject Newsom's $400M PG&E Budget Bid Amid Ongoing Political Standoff
Evening sets on the San Onofre atomic power plant December 6, 2004 in northern San Diego County, south of San Clemente, California.
(Photo : David McNew/Getty Images)

The California Legislature made a clear statement on Thursday (June 13) by expressing its intention to cancel a $400 million loan payment aimed at supporting the extension of the state's final nuclear power plant.

This decision highlights a disagreement with Gov. Gavin Newsom, who believes that this power source is crucial for ensuring energy security in the face of a changing climate.

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant Debate

According to AP News, the votes in the state Senate and Assembly on funding for the twin-domed Diablo Canyon plant were part of the ongoing negotiations between Governor Newsom and legislative leaders from the Democratic party regarding the new budget.

However, this situation creates a public conflict regarding one of the governor's key initiatives, which he has strongly supported in conjunction with the state's rapid transition to solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources.

In Sacramento, there was a heated dispute as environmentalists and antinuclear activists raised concerns about the skyrocketing cost of keeping the seaside reactors operational beyond their planned closing in 2025.

The estimated price tag has now reached nearly $12 billion, which is almost double the earlier projections. This has also sparked concerns about potential increases in fees for ratepayers.

H.D. Palmer, a spokesperson for the California Department of Finance, highlighted that the budget negotiations are ongoing and the legislative votes indicate a consensus between the Senate and the Assembly, rather than an agreement with the governor.

The votes in the Legislature represent the most recent development in a prolonged battle concerning the operation and safety of the plant. It is situated on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, positioned between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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US Nuclear Industry

Diablo Canyon, a power plant that has been in operation since the mid-1980s, plays a significant role in generating a substantial portion of California's electricity on a daily basis.

The debate surrounding the future of the reactors is unfolding against the backdrop of the revitalization of the US nuclear industry in the face of global warming.

Nuclear power is a source of energy that doesn't contribute to carbon pollution, unlike fossil fuels. However, it does generate waste that can remain highly radioactive for many centuries, posing potential dangers.

A Georgia utility has recently completed the construction of two brand-new American reactors, marking a significant milestone in the energy industry. The project, which cost nearly $35 billion, represents a major investment in the future of nuclear power.

The cost of expanding Plant Vogtle from two large reactors to four has exceeded the initial budget by $11 billion. Construction has begun on a new nuclear power plant in Wyoming, spearheaded by Bill Gates and his energy company. The tech mogul is confident that this innovative project will completely transform the way power is generated, Washington Post reported.

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