Environmental groups consider rehearing in Diablo Canyon lawsuit

Environmental groups consider seeking rehearing in Diablo Canyon litigation

Mothers for Peace, Friends of the Earth and Environmental Working Group weigh options following Ninth Circuit order affirming NRC loophole allowing nuclear power plant’s continued operations

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion upholding the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)’s unprecedented decision to allow Diablo Canyon to operate indefinitely beyond the expiration of its operating licenses. In March 2023, NRC granted PG&E an exemption to the Timely Renewal Rule, which allows the nuclear power plant to operate beyond its scheduled shutdown dates of 2024 for Unit 1 and 2025 for Unit 2. 

The decision was made pursuant to a lawsuit filed by environmental groups with deep concern over the significant environmental and public health risks associated with extending Diablo Canyon’s tenure. The court’s decision rejected their claims that the NRC had unlawfully skipped crucial safety and environmental analysis before granting the extension. 

Diane Curran, attorney for Mothers for Peace, said the groups will evaluate their options for further action on the issue. She added: “This is a warning to the residents of the State of California that they should not look to federal regulators or even the federal court system to protect them from unreviewed safety and environmental risks during extended operation of the Diablo Canyon reactors. For the time being, the Court’s decision leaves California ratepayers stuck with an expensive, unnecessary and dangerous set of aging reactors for which there is no effective federal safety oversight.”  

“We strongly reject the court’s ruling,” said Caroline Leary, EWG’s general counsel and COO. “PG&E and California’s leaders are recklessly gambling with Diablo Canyon, endangering the health and safety of countless individuals. We’ll explore all avenues to reverse the NRC’s irresponsible decision, refusing to let the agency skirt crucial and required safety reviews in its misguided bid to prolong the operation of this deteriorating nuclear plant.” 

“Today’s decision is a disappointing one,” said Hallie Templeton, Legal Director for Friends of the Earth. “We filed our lawsuit because NRC was playing fast and loose with decisions that could quite literally lead to a nuclear meltdown. We will keep fighting to ensure that all involved officials properly and thoroughly apply pertinent laws to Diablo’s attempted extension.” 

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

Related News Releases