Sixteen Years After His Death, a Renowned Environmentalist Won His Longest Fight

David Brower, Founder of Friends of the Earth, Spent His Career Negotiating Between Nature and Power

Earlier this year, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, which built and operates the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors on the central California coast, announced that it will phase them out by 2025 and replace their output with renewably generated electricity. When I heard this news I thought of David Brower and the long campaign he waged to close the plant.

Brower, once head of the Sierra Club and founder of Friends of the Earth, is a towering figure in the late 20th century environmental movement—and in my own life. One …