Friends of the Earth Sues PG&E Over Diablo Canyon Extension

Friends of the Earth Sues PG&E Over Effort to Extend Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

PG&E’s attempt to prolong Diablo Canyon operations contradicts 2016 agreement to retire the risky plant

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, Friends of the Earth filed a lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Energy (PG&E) to prevent breach of a contract to retire the Diablo Canyon nuclear power facility when its current operating licenses expire in 2024 and 2025.  

In 2016, Friends of the Earth entered into a contract with PG&E to retire Diablo Canyon. This was in exchange for Friends of the Earth dropping a separate legal challenge over environmental and public safety concerns associated with the power plant’s continued operations. Diablo Canyon – California’s last remaining nuclear plant – is located in San Luis Obispo near at least three seismic fault lines, which puts the entire state at risk of a devastating accident. It also operates on an outdated cooling system that puts marine life and water quality at significant risk of harm. 

In September 2022, the California legislature passed SB846, which provided financial incentives and supported state-level actions toward extending the outdated power plant for an additional five years. Friends of the Earth’s new lawsuit follows recent actions by PG&E that indicate an intent to breach the 2016 contract. These include applying to the U.S. Department of Energy for funding to aid Diablo’s extended operations and securing approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue operating Diablo Canyon beyond the expiration of current operating licenses while NRC considers PG&E’s forthcoming license renewal applications.  

“Contracts simply don’t vanish into thin air,” said Hallie Templeton, Legal Director for Friends of the Earth. “Yet ever since California passed legislation supporting Diablo Canyon’s extension, PG&E has been acting as if our contract has disappeared. Setting aside the agreement to retire Diablo, there are myriad legal prerequisites for extending operations of a nuclear power plant, including federal decisions that states cannot dictate. We hope our litigation can push PG&E to reconsider its potential breach and uphold its obligations, including preparing for the agreed-upon retirement.”  

Friend of the Earth is represented by attorneys at Briscoe Ivester & Bazel LLP. The 2016 contract between Friends of the Earth. PG&E, and other entities can be accessed here 

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

Related News Releases