California court dismisses lawsuit over nuclear power plant

By Shannon Kelleher

A California state judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by an environmental group seeking to force Pacific Gas & Electric Power Co. (PG&E) to adhere to a 2016 pledge to fully retire the state’s last nuclear power plant by 2025.

Instead of preparing to shutter its operation, PG&E is seeking approval to keep the Diablo Canyon plant open through 2045. The plant, which has come under fire for environmental and safety concerns, rests on the coast between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The San Francisco County Superior Court decision, issued August 23, sided with PG&E’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit on procedural grounds. The decision followed a court hearing on Monday.

“It didn’t come as a huge surprise, but we’re still very disappointed in the outcome,” said Hallie Templeton, legal director of Friends of the Earth (FOE), which filed the lawsuit in April alleging that PG&E is violating the agreement it signed with the group in 2016. “It was very clear to us after the hearing that the judge didn’t want to touch this case with a ten-foot pole.”

The court decided to dismiss the case after taking the position that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) continues to have jurisdiction over matters related to the contract between FOE and PG&E.

“The issues presented by FOE’s claim are policy matters that fall squarely within the CPUC’s authority,” wrote Judge Ethan Schulman in the decision.