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  • Whiting Refinery Restarts // Electric Battery Maker Comes to WV // Is Diablo Canyon Saved?

Whiting Refinery Restarts // Electric Battery Maker Comes to WV // Is Diablo Canyon Saved?

Whiting Refinery Restarts

BP's Indiana Whiting refinery has restarted after switching off due to an electrical fire last week. 

This comes as welcome news, as Whiting, which produces 450,000 barrels per day, is a load-bearing piece of fossil fuel infrastructure. When it caught fire last week, it impacted the supply of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel in the Midwest. Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin obtain about a quarter of their fuel supply from Whiting.

"The Whiting refinery can produce 10 million gallons (~277,000 barrels) of gasoline, 4 million gallons of diesel, and 2 million gallons of jet fuel each day; it is capable of producing enough gasoline every day to support the daily travel of 7 million cars," reports Oilprice.com. It's the largest refinery in the Midwest.

Still, Michigan, one of the states affected by the brief closure, is still paying 69 cents more per gallon of gas than it did this time last year

Electric Battery Maker Comes to WV

SPARKZ, an energy start-up company in California, is going to site a new battery factory in West Virginia. 

"The batteries will be built at a 482,000-square-foot (4.5-hectare) plant in Taylor County off U.S. Route 50 near Bridgeport," reports AP. "The plant, which eventually will employ 350 workers, originally was a glass factory that ceased operations in 2009."

The plant will make batteries without cobalt in hopes that it will drive down the cost of lithium-ion batteries. "The Democratic Republic of Congo has historically been the top producer of cobalt worldwide, with most mines controlled by Chinese companies," reports AP.

Plus, SPARKZ made an agreement with the United Mine Workers to recruit those members who have lost their mining jobs and train them the be the first workers in the battery factory. 

Is Diablo Canyon Saved?

Early yesterday morning, the California legislature approved a bill to keep the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant running. 

"The bill, which must be signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, includes a $1.4 billion forgivable loan to Diablo Canyon’s owner, Pacific Gas & Electric," reports Robert Bryce. The plant supplies 9% of the state's energy needs. 

The decision marks a turning point in American energy history. California was the birthplace of the anti-nuclear environmental movement. People familiar with the matter say that the major green groups leaned on Sacramento as hard as they could in the lead up to the vote. Their attempts to kill the plant failed. It seems they no longer have the juice they used to when it comes to killing off the American nuclear industry. 

Michael Shellenberger, who helped lead the charge to save Diablo, told Grid Brief, "This is a victory of pro-civilization values, including the love of humanity, science, and reason, over the forces of pro-scarcity nihilism, which brought California's electrical grid to the brink of collapse. The victory stems fundamentally from two things: hard work by a very small group of us to change attitudes toward nuclear since 2016, and electricity shortages stemming from the state’s over-reliance on unreliable, weather-dependent renewables."

"We should savor this victory, and keep in mind that we are at the beginning, not the end, of building the movement we started in 2016. We still have a lot of nuclear plants to save, and we have many, many more to build. This is the work of many lifetimes," Shellenberger added. 

The news couldn't come at a better time, as California's grid is already in dire straits. Earlier this week, its grid operator, CAISO, issued a state-wide flex alert asking customers to curb their energy use between 4-9pm until the middle of next week due to a heatwave. High temperature and increasing electricity demand will be ongoing features of Californian life--Diablo is non-optional infrastructure. 

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Conversation Starters

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Crom's Blessing