Sierra Club: gas-fired capacity to replace San Onofre not the answer

The Sierra Club, which a few years ago rolled out a “Beyond Gas” campaign as a follow-on to its “Beyond Coal” campaign, has launched an online petition and video urging California officials to not replace the just-retired San Onofre nuclear plant with gas-fired capacity.

The new campaign is aimed at the California Public Utilities Commission and Gov. Jerry Brown and asks them to reject a plan that would add new air pollution to Southern California and move California backwards on its climate goals. The video features children imagining what a future would look like if polluting gas-fired plants were built in their neighborhoods and urges the public to sign the petition.

This past summer, Southern California Edison gave up on trying to restart the idled San Onofre plant, with over 2,200 MW of capacity, leaving parties to scramble for replacement capacity.

“The retirement of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is a key opportunity to demonstrate how California can meet its future energy needs without new fossil fuel plants,” said Evan Gillespie, Director of the Sierra Cub’s My Generation campaign. “Unfortunately, Governor Brown and state regulators are rushing through a flawed plan and using San Onofre as an excuse to build new polluting gas plants in Southern California.”

New gas-fired power plants would lock in more carbon pollution for decades to come and would undermine California’s climate targets, the club said. According to the California Air Resources Board, greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2012 for the first time since 2008 because of increased reliance on gas plants after San Onofre was idled due to equipment problems, prior to the decision to permanently retire it.

“We cannot claim to other states and the world that California is leading the charge against climate change while permitting huge new fossil fuel plants in our backyard. That’s not leadership,” continued Gillespie. “California can either continue to lead on climate protection, or move backwards with new natural gas pollution.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.