Republican Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, who represents San Luis Obispo, wants to update the state constitution in a way that would qualify nuclear energy as renewable energy.
The amendment would mean that the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant could potentially remain open. Controversy has surrounded the question of whether the state’s last remaining nuclear plant should stay open, but it’s slated for closure in 2026. Getting a constitutional amendment passed is a challenge and the assemblymember has admitted that it’s a longshot. It would take a two-thirds majority vote in the Assembly and state Senate before a ballot initiative could be sent to voters. Those in favor of the amendment say that nuclear is the cleanest form of electrical power generation, and if California is serious about fighting climate change, nuclear has an important role to play. Others have spoken out against the proposal, comparing it to taxpayer bailouts of two nuclear reactors in Ohio.
We talk to people on both sides of the issue to discuss whether nuclear energy should be considered renewable.
Gene Nelson, legal assistant for Californians for Green Nuclear Power, an advocacy group that aims to promote carbon-free energy and supports the Diablo Canyon Power Plant; he has a Ph.D. in radiation biophysics
John Geesman, attorney with Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, an anti-nuclear advocacy group that’s against the Diablo Canyon Power Plant; he was formerly a member of the California Energy Commission