U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal showed no signs of slowing down Tuesday morning despite a positive diagnosis for COVID-19.
An upbeat Rep. Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, hosted a Zoom news conference about his Energy Opportunity Zones Act, which is meant to mitigate the economic impact of the closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant near Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County. Several hours later, Rep Carbajal issued a statement after he learned of the positive test for the coronavirus.
Before the news of the diagnosis, Rep. Carbajal in Washington, D.C., and others discussed the new bill creating “energy opportunity zones” for areas that can demonstrate the closure of a nuclear or coal power plant would cause a loss of jobs.
The designation would extend, strengthen and create tax credits that encourage investment in renewable energy, according to a news release from Rep. Carbajal’s office. Under his legislation, the Central Coast is among the areas that would qualify as an energy opportunity zone.
During Tuesday’s conference, Rep. Carbajal stressed the importance of renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power and noted the Energy Opportunity Zones Act meets several goals.
“It safeguards the environment, protects our public health and helps grow our economy,” the congressman said.
Rep. Carbajal noted the Central Coast can become a hub for opportunities in green energy. He added that renewable, clean energy will create many more jobs than those established by fossil fuel industries.
During the conference, Benjamin Ruttenberg, associate professor and director of Cal Poly’s center for Coastal Marine Sciences, said he is glad to see clean energy sources promoted.
He noted the potential for energy from offshore winds. “It may have significant economic value.”
Jocelyn Brennan, CEO and president of South County Chambers of Commerce in San Luis Obispo County, noted green energy sources could increase the number of well-paying jobs.
“These are big, long-time goals that will have a long-lasting legacy for future generations,” she said.
The conference also featured Morro Bay Mayor John Headding, who called the Energy Opportunity Zones Act “a game changer” for his city as it deals with the economic impact of the Diablo Canyon plant closure.
“It could potentially bring a large number of jobs for us,” Mr. Heading said. “This presents a great economic opportunity for us.”
But Rep. Carbajal’s call for green energy is fueling a different reaction
from Andy Caldwell, the Republican candidate challenging him in the Nov. 3 election. Mr. Caldwell said that if elected, he would work to keep the Diablo Canyon plant open and build an adjoining desalination plant.
“We’re experiencing more frequent electrical blackouts, and we have been suffering from water rationing and shortages for years,” Mr. Caldwell said in a news release. “Congress and the state legislature have done nothing to fix these problems. In fact, they are making the problems worse.
“This is about reliable, affordable electricity, creating and retaining good-paying jobs, and securing clean water for our farms and families,” he said. “This isn’t pie-in-the-sky virtue signaling. This is a real, shovel-ready project that will provide immediate benefits for the Central Coast.”
Mr. Caldwell, a News-Press columnist, noted California imports more oil and fossil fuel-generated electricity than any other state. “That means California’s ‘clean energy’ talk is just that — nothing but talk. If any of them were serious about reducing carbon emissions, they would be looking for new, zero-emission sources like nuclear to expand our capacity. Instead, they’re focused on reducing our capacity while increasing demand.”