Officials and community groups envision future use of Diablo Canyon site
–Leaders of the federal, state and district government Cal Poly, the land protection of the district San Luis Obispo, the Yak Tityu Tityu Yak Tiłhini Northern Chumash and the Tri-Counties Building and Construction Trades Council have announced a new partnership as part of the coordination of REACH to track future uses in Diablo Canyon.
The shared vision, set out in a new Memorandum of Understanding, includes job creation and clean energy innovation on the 600-acre Parcel P industrial site, while recognizing the complementary efforts to preserve the unique natural resources and cultural heritage the surrounding 12,000 acres of Diablo lands.
“We have an urgent, unique opportunity to shape the next era for Diablo Canyon and become a leader in clean energy research and development. This partnership brings all the right parties to the table to achieve positive results for the entire community, ”said Melissa James, President and CEO of REACH.
“The future of Diablo Canyon is one of the most pressing issues SLO County is facing, especially given the job loss and economic impact of Covid-19,” said Lynn Compton, Chair of the SLO County’s Board of Supervisors. “Collaboration between the public, private and nonprofit sectors is vital to advance the goals of new head job growth, helping local businesses and building energy and water resilience.”
The county will play a leadership role in the environmental review of facility owner PG&E’s decommissioning plan under California’s Environmental Quality Act and future land use decisions. On Tuesday, the Supervisory Board approved joining the partnership as part of the declaration of intent.
“Diablo Canyon has been an economic powerhouse in our community for decades. Through these coordinated efforts, we will continue this tradition and create new opportunities for future generations on the central coast, ”said Dawn Ortiz-Legg, director of the SLO district, whose 3rd district includes Diablo Gorge. “I look forward to working together to advance this vision to government agencies, lawmakers and industry partners to invite more participation and investment into our community.”
The region’s elected state and federal officials have pledged to work with government agencies to ensure the safe and timely shutdown of the power plant and promote economic development in the region.
“As our community works together to mitigate the economic impact of the Diablo shutdown, I would like to help secure the Central Coast’s dominance as a hub for renewable energy development,” said US Representative Salud Carbajal.
“California’s ambitious renewable energy targets and changing global views on fossil fuels are dramatically changing the energy landscape,” said Senator John Laird. “At Diablo, we have the opportunity to create future-oriented jobs and drive the state’s transition to a cleaner economy.”
“The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is a local economic factor that generates local tax revenues in the millions and is responsible for around 1,500 jobs as head of the household. When we passed SB 1090 in 2018, we did so to protect Diablo’s employees and ensure the facility could operate safely by 2025, ”said MP Jordan Cunninngham. “Looking ahead, it is important that our local redevelopment plan focuses on the need to diversify the local economy and create higher paying jobs for the Central Coast residents. Our region – and those who call it home – deserve nothing less. “
Jeffrey D. Armstrong, President of Cal Poly, said, “Cal Poly has a long history of driving innovation through our learn by doing approach and industry partnerships. This vision forms the basis for the further development of the global sustainability of the energy supply in our own garden. “
“Part of that vision is a community workforce agreement that will ensure local workers and businesses are used as much as possible during the lengthy shutdown process,” said Joshua Medrano, of the Tri-Counties Building and Construction Trades Council. “If we want this region to remain a major player in the state’s energy sector, we need to maintain and develop a highly skilled workforce and specialized training programs.”
The parallel efforts to permanently protect the Diablo Canyon Lands around the Parcel P power plant, which extends from Montaña de Oro State Park to Avila Beach, began in August 2020 with a partnership between the Yak Tityu Tityu Yak Tiłhini Northern Chumash and Die Landkonservierung of San Luis Obispo County, which Cal Poly joined this week. Both Chumash and The Land Conservancy have joined the Parcel P partnership to support and contribute to efforts to rehabilitate the power plant site for the benefit of the region.
“On behalf of the Yak Tityu Tityu Yak Tiłhini Northern Chumash Tribe of the San Luis Obispo County and Region, we welcome the opportunity to be a member of this collaboration,” said Scott Lathrop, President of ytt Northern Chumash Nonprofit. “The Diablo Canyon power plant is located on the Petscho coast. As true descendants of the Pecho Coast, we are responsible for managing these areas and ensuring that future uses support the tribes’ economic sustainability and the protection of cultural and natural resources. “
“I am confident that together we can protect the fragile coastal habitats of the Pecho Coast, the beautiful oak forests and the breathtaking coastal terraces and mountains for generations to come, while using the power plant for the benefit of the community and the economy,” said The Land Conservancy of Kaila Dettman, executive director of San Luis Obispo County. “We look forward to participating in and supporting this partnership.”
Andrew Hackleman, Vice President of REACH, described the partnership as similar to the one entered in August 2020 to cultivate a commercial space hub around Vandenberg Air Force Base.
“These efforts are paying off early on, and this partnership looks equally promising in advancing the social, cultural, environmental and economic interests of the Central Coast residents,” said Hackleman. “REACH was founded after the announcement of the closure of Diablo. Overcoming challenges and seizing opportunities remains a central focus of our work.”
Jim Hamilton, executive director of the Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative and one of the country’s foremost experts on the process, hailed the collaboration of a broad coalition of stakeholders as the best way forward.
“The shutdown is a very complex undertaking with lots of moving parts and a lot of uncertainty,” said Hamilton. “At the same time, there is potential for communities to benefit from it as part of the process. Sustained, proactive commitment is required to achieve positive results and avoid the economic setbacks that have suffered many communities. The Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative is committed to supporting this partnership and the community in the months and years to come. “
More information is available at www.reachcentralcoast.org.
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The news staff for the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story by local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at [email protected]