Despite its long opposition to nuclear power, the Golden State may soon be building several nuclear power plants - because they are environmentally friendly.

So why is the state where the phrase "No Nukes" became a rallying cry possibly allowing a slew of plants to be built in the Central Valley, the state's bone-dry, irrigated breadbasket? It comes down to the state's global warming law, which requires California to steeply increase โ€” by 30 percent โ€” in renewable energy by 2020.


The new plan comes from the company Areva SA primarily owned by the government of France, where nuclear fission has been a mainstream power source for decades. They're working with the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group.

A state wracked by drought, endless budget problems as well as what seems like perpetual political gridlock may be eager to try anything. (Besides increasing taxes, that is.)

"I don't think these people are country bumpkins as some people in the media have portrayed them, or even rabid pro-nuclear people," Jim Metropolus of Sierra Club California told EE News. "I certainly believe that the Fresno group is very serious, and maybe they have a chance regardless of the law in California."

Picture of Cattenom Nuclear Power Station in France, via JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP/Getty Images.