Since he was elected in 2010, Gov. Jerry Brown has gained an international reputation as a climate leader. He has spoken at the Vatican, at U.N. climate talks, and promoted California’s policies in China. Journalists routinely praise Brown for reducing emissions by expanding clean energy.
But is Brown’s climate reputation deserved?
A new, two-year investigation by Environmental Progress concludes that no American has killed more zero-emissions energy than Gov. Jerry Brown — and in ways that sometimes benefited his own family financially.
We publish this story on the day the Brown-controlled California Public Utilities Commission has voted to kill Diablo Canyon, California’s largest single source of clean energy, and the state’s last nuclear plant.
They did so despite being under federal and state criminal investigation relating to the closure of yet another nuclear plant, San Onofre, in 2013.
What makes this corruption story matter is that it resulted in rising emissions and electricity costs.
Had the Brown administration’s repeated self-dealing resulted in lower emissions and cheaper energy, this would just be the story of yet another crooked family’s political dynasty.
What makes EP’s investigation even more significant is the crucial role Brown played in legitimizing anti-nuclear ideology, and creating the anti-nuclear movement — one which has replaced nuclear plants with fossil fuels in Germany, Vermont, Japan, Taiwan, and other nations around the world.
The story begins in the 1960s with the construction of Diablo Canyon. The goal of the state’s electric utilities was, at the time, to reduce dependence on coal, oil and natural gas, which were expensive and dirty.
But the same year the Sierra Club endorsed the building of Diablo Canyon, Brown’s family came into extraordinary oil wealth — wealth that depended on maintaining the state’s dependence on imported foreign oil.
On taking power in 1975, Brown and his allies aggressively wielded power in ways that directly benefited Brown’s family, including by killing nuclear power plants.
All of the evidence and sources we cite come from credible newspaper, historical, archival, and court evidence, and none of the facts we present have been, to our knowledge, contested by any of the parties involved.
While little of the evidence we present is new — and most of it is, in fact, decades old — EP has presented comprehensive evidence that the war on nuclear energy has a strong financial component.
We are not suggesting that financial motives alone explain the anti-nuclear movement, but the heavy and sustained involvement of Gov. Brown and others with a direct financial interest in killing the main competitor to petroleum and natural gas can no longer be ignored as a key factor to its rise and continuing power.Read More