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Posted on October 25, 2011

Clarke Awards: Mike Taggart Protects Cultural Resources at Diablo Canyon

Each year, PG&E presents the Richard A. Clarke Environmental Leadership Awards to honor an individual and a team whose efforts demonstrate exceptional environmental leadership within the company. PG&E will give a charitable contribution of $10,000 on behalf of the winners, and $1,000 on behalf of finalists to an environmental, conservation or environmental justice nonprofit organization of their choice.

Tony Earley, PG&E’s new CEO, chairman and president, will be on hand when the winners are selected on Thursday (Oct. 27). Currents will be profiling the finalists this week. Click here for a look at Currents’ coverage of the Clarke Awards.

By Tracy Correa

Mike Taggart has a genuine appreciation for the land surrounding PG&E’s Diablo Canyon Power Plant and he’s passionate about sharing its archaeological treasures with local college students.

Mike Taggart

Mike Taggart works with students and Native American tribes to explore Diablo Canyon's past.

“Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I’m being paid to work on the Diablo property,” said Taggart, about the plant located on the Central California coast.

As part of his job as a cultural resource specialist, Taggart facilitates an Archaeological Field Methods Course with California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. The partnership allows students to come onto the plant property to explore Native American artifacts more than 1,000 years old that are gradually being lost to ocean erosion.

His expertise in his field and willingness to help share Diablo’s resources with future generations are just part of what has earned him a spot as a finalist for PG&E’s 2011 Clarke Environmental Leadership Awards.

“He is absolutely deserving of this recognition,” said Dr. Terry Jones, an archaeologist and chair of the social sciences department at Cal Poly.

He said Taggart demonstrates an enthusiasm in working with students and made sure they received a unique hands-on experience during a recent 10-week field course to explore and recover information about artifacts on Diablo Canyon lands.

“He really had to go above and beyond to have this opportunity for students,” Jones said.

Taggart says he can’t take full credit for the partnership launched with Cal Poly, which started before he came along, but he’s glad to help it continue to grow.

He said he is learning about Diablo’s ancient artifacts along with the class; he spent part of Memorial Day weekend with the students at the site.

Adds Taggart: “We are the first people seeing some of these artifacts for thousands of years. And on top of that, it’s really refreshing to work with college kids who are so motivated.”

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