FOE sues DOE over Billion Dollar Award to Diablo Canyon

Friends of the Earth sues DOE over Billion Dollar Award to Diablo Canyon

The Department of Energy failed to fully analyze environmental risks of prolonging the life of the dangerous nuclear power plant

LOS ANGELES Friends of the Earth has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy for its faulty environmental review associated with a $1.1 billion award to continue operating Diablo Canyon, California’s last remaining nuclear power plant.  

The award is being provided to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) pursuant to the U.S. Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program, which was created to assist the country’s aging nuclear fleet in the event of financial difficulties. In July 2023, DOE published a final Environmental Impact Statement, which largely relies on outdated analysis completed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission between 1976 and 2007 for unrelated activities.  

Over the past few decades, DOE has failed to update this analysis to incorporate the full range of current impacts and safety risks from continuing to operate Diablo Canyon. These include the nuclear facility’s use of an outdated cooling mechanism, possible embrittlement of vital components, and the discovery of a new seismic fault line underneath the facility. Also notably missing is analysis of the ways that climate change will risk the facility’s safe operation due to increased flood and other hazardous conditions. DOE also failed to give an opportunity for public comment during the already deficient environmental review process.  

“DOE should have known better than to shirk NEPA review before handing out a billion taxpayer dollars to a dangerously outdated nuclear power plant,” said Hallie Templeton, Legal Director for Friends of the Earth. “Perhaps the worst piece of this puzzle is that DOE has adopted analysis that was completed almost a decade before Diablo Canyon was even up and running. When it comes to extending the life of this risky nuclear facility, we will keep watching closely to ensure that the NRC and the DOE fulfill all federal mandates.” 

Friends of the Earth is also involved in additional litigation challenging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decisions related to Diablo Canyon’s extension. These cases are pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

Plaintiffs filed the immediate lawsuit against DOE in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. They are being represented in this matter by the public interest law firm Eubanks & Associates PLLC. 

Communications contact: Brittany Miller, [email protected], (202) 222-0746

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