‘Corrupt and broken’: Berkeley resident announces pro-environment run for governor

Amanda Ramirez/Staff

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Berkeley resident Michael Shellenberger announced his plans to run for California governor Thursday at a ClimateTECH conference in San Francisco, bringing new energy to an already hotly contested race.

Shellenberger, a nuclear energy advocate, is the founder of a research and policy organization called Environmental Progress that works to secure “clean power and energy justice.” He also co-founded the Breakthrough Institute, a research center that uses technology to promote human and environmental development.

The gubernatorial race for California will include independent candidacies by Shellenberger, Hilaire Fuji Shioura, Andy Blanch and Joshua Laine. Other politicians such as Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa and John Chiang have also confirmed their campaigns for governor.

“I think both parties are corrupt and broken,” Shellenberger said. “We need to start fresh with a fresh agenda.”

Shellenberger’s campaign addresses nuclear energy and the idea of “ecomodernism,” which promotes nuclear energy and city development, according to Shellenberger.

“I’m pro-city, pro-tech and pro-nuclear,” Shellenberger said. “If we want to save nature, we need more cities.”

The campaign will formally launch in January. According to Shellenberger, he plans to seek the “student vote” and hopes to get student environmental activists involved in his campaign.

Recently, Shellenberger advocated against the California Public Utilities Commission’s alleged plans to shut down Diablo Canyon Power Plant because, he said, it is a major source of clean energy.

“I’ve been here for now 22 years,” Shellenberger said. “I’m sickened and I want to turn it around.”

Contact Ella Jensen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ellajensen_dc.

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  • Michael Shellenberger is basically a shill for the nuke industry. He simply claims to be an ‘environmentalist’ because it gives him a veil of credibility that he wouldn’t have if he told the truth about what he is – a self-promotionist lining his own pockets.

    Shellenberger is just following the lead of other self-proclaimed ‘environmentalists’ who sold out because they realised they could make a lot more money shilling for toxic and damaging industries like nukes, agro-chemical, mining, forestry, etc.

    I’m looking forward to seeing his bid for governor turn in to a farcical failure..

  • Paul Lindsey

    Because wind power is a unreliable joke. If BPA was relying on batteries to backup their 4,515MW of installed wind capacity instead of hydro, nuke and NG, the batteries would have to last DAYS: https://transmission.bpa.gov/Business/operations/Wind/baltwg3.aspx

  • C Bierbauer78

    Nuke Power and the Environment are opposing concepts. They are antithetical. This aspiring politician is a liar, on his way to being a liar, cheat and thief.

    • John Ritchie

      The nation with the lowest carbon emissions per capita that doesn’t have significant hydro capacity is France. Which relies on Nuclear. It’s the only real solution.

  • Pietro Gambadilegno

    Shellenberger is a fake environmentalist.

    He has spent his career arguing against measures to reduce carbon emissions, such as cap and trade, and saying that all we need is faster technological innovation. This ignores the fact that cap and trade or other carbon pricing schemes encourage faster technological innovation by making it clear to investors that we are shifting to clean energy. Carbon pricing is also needed because, even with technological innovation, it is generally cheaper to keep running dirty coal plants rather than closing them and building clean replacements – unless we charge for the carbon the coal plants are emitting.

    Now he is pushing nuclear power as the solution to global warming. This ignores that fact that new wind or solar power with battery storage now costs half as new nuclear power – and the costs of wind, solar, and battery storage are going down, while the cost of nuclear is not.

    Talk about corruption. There is only possible one way that Shellenberger could fund a non-profit that supports such obviously wrong ideas – donations from the fossil fuel and nuclear industries.

    Your headline is absolutely wrong to say that he is a pro-environment candidate for governor. It is not pro-environment to be against cap-and-trade and for nuclear power. Don’t believe his self-promoting lies.

    • Madi Czerwinski

      Dear Pietro,

      What you have written is false. Environmental Progress, where I am executive vice president, is solely funded by individuals and charitable philanthropies, and does not accept donations from energy companies of any kind. Had you visited our web site, you would see that list our donors, which is something most environmental groups don’t do.

      Our founder, Michael Shellenberger, is a Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment” which he won for his independent views. In fact, it was his independence from renewable energy industries that enabled him to change his mind about renewables. And it’s his independence from nuclear industry that allowed him to write critically of the industry, including as it relates to recent cost overruns in the South.

      In the future, you might consider doing your research before promoting conspiracy theories. Had you done so you might have discovered that Environmental Progress investigated and discovered that the largest advocates of renewable energy — NRDC, Sierra Club, EDF, and FOE — have taken tens of millions of dollars from, and/or invest in, fossil fuel and renewable energy companies.

      If you’d like to learn more about the reasons behind Michael’s change of mind reversal, I encourage you to watch his recent TEDx Berlin Talk, “Why I changed my mind about nuclear.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciStnd9Y2ak) Or feel free to stop in to our office in Berkeley to chat with EP staff.


      Madison Czerwinski
      Executive Vice President
      Environmental Progress