California Approves a Wave of Aggressive New Climate Measures

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Other bills passed by the legislature would require more concrete steps.

Lawmakers approved a budget laid out by Mr. Newsom that would spend a record $54 billion over five years on climate programs. That includes $6.1 billion for electric vehicles, including money to buy new battery-powered school buses, $14.8 billion for transit, rail and port projects, more than $8 billion to clean up and stabilize the electric grid, $2.7 billion to reduce wildfire risks and $2.8 billion in water programs to deal with drought.

As part of that spending package, legislators endorsed a plan to keep open the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, a pair of nuclear reactors on the state’s central coast that provide 9 percent of California’s electricity.

Those reactors were originally scheduled to close in 2024 and 2025, but the new plan extends those deadlines to 2029 and 2030 while providing a $1.4 billion loan to Pacific Gas & Electric, the utility that operates the plant. PG&E is also expected to apply for money from a new $6 billion federal program designed to keep open existing nuclear plants.

Mr. Newsom had once been a firm believer that Diablo Canyon should shut down, siding with activists and environmentalists concerned about its impact on marine life and the risk posed by nuclear reactors sitting on several seismic fault lines. But as California has faced increasingly severe heat waves that drive up demand for electricity, and regulators warn of potential power shortages, Mr. Newsom reversed course and urged lawmakers to keep the plant open.

Some environmental groups opposed the move, arguing that the money would be better spent on solar and wind power and batteries. But supporters of keeping the plant open warned that California badly needed the electricity, and if the plant closed, it would be replaced with more polluting sources like natural gas.

In a letter to the Assembly on Tuesday, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, urged state lawmakers to act. “The alternative to the closure of the reactors at Diablo Canyon will most likely be additional natural gas generation, which would reverse progress on emissions reductions and worsen air quality,” she wrote.

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