— California Senate Bill 968 supporting PG&E’s Diablo Canyon faces sharp opposition

Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant faces increasing calls for closure. It is the only power generating nuclear plant currently operating in California. Its problems have been ongoing from the beginning. It is at daily risk from the four earthquake faults in the vicinity. The many frightening safety violations there by Pacific Gas and Electric and the NRC whistleblower exposé that the plant is out of compliance have caused alarm bells. Recent comments by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom on the California Lands Commission mean Diablo Canyon’s future is being questioned in Sacramento.

But in February, Sen. Bill Monning introduced Senate Bill 968, co-written by Sen. Katcho Achadjian (San Luis Obispo) and Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson (Santa Barbara-Ventura), calling for a study of the adverse economic effects of closing Diablo Canyon. Many profit by its continued operation. The study would be funded by the public. The bill and its unbalanced study has encountered strong opposition from environmental and health organizations. Though Monning has now amended the bill to add ‘beneficial’ economic effects from a closure to the investigation, this seems merely a cosmetic change. The intent of the authors and this bill is clear.

Sen. Monning and co-authors state they want an independent evaluation, but the California Public Utilities Commission – an agency notorious for biasing results and ignoring unwanted conclusions – will oversee the selection. Furthermore in 2011, Monning as Assemblyman helped choose, and then affirmed findings of, the California Council on Science and Technology on Smart Meters. CCST was a supposedly independent group, but flaws in the review panel, the data, and the report were exposed by state health officials, scientists, and medical experts. However, Monning stood firm, despite what was widely known about Smart Meter problems, despite formal comments to the CPUC on overbilling and health issues, and despite public testimony to the Commission and Monning’s own office of the harm being inflicted by Smart Meters. CCST’s pro-industry report gave cover to PG&E and other utility companies for the continued roll-out of the very dangerous and controversial meters.

Bill Monning has proven a reliable supporter for utility company initiatives and Democratic Party positions and backers, despite his former position as Executive Director for the International Physicians for Social Responsibility. The San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles Chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility called their decision to oppose this bill and its author “painful” because of Monning’s previous affiliation with their group, but they felt they had no choice.

PSR reluctantly has concluded that this bill would be at variance with the fundamental principle “do no harm”. By calling on PG&E to submit an analysis of the supposedly adverse economic impacts of closing the plant at the end of its designed life with no discussion of impacts of a Fukushima-type disaster were the plant to keep running, the study would amount to a piece of advocacy for continued operation of this dangerous facility.

Each Diablo unit contains 1000 times a long-lived radioactivity of the Hiroshima bomb. Each year Diablo produces enough plutonium for hundreds of nuclear weapons as well as waste toxic for half a million years.

The plant was built based on the assumption there were no active earthquake faults within 30 kilometers. Now we know there are 4. It is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

The public should not be forced to pay as taxpayers or ratepayers for a wasteful, unbalanced, and unnecessary report that may have the effect of implicitly pushing for the continuation of these risks. Thank you.

Monning: “One slight correction on the opposition testimony. We do remain open to working with them. This would not be a study conducted by PG&E. It would be supported by an independent study.”

The economic and environmental damage that Diablo Canyon inflicts on San Luis Obispo County now and on the ocean now is not considered by Sen. Monning and Co.. And “a catastrophe waiting to happen” decimating all industry and population centers within many miles is simply not a part of their equation, economic or otherwise – a startling realization. It is especially surprising that Senator Jackson co-authored this bill, since her district does not have the economic gain that SLO County enjoys, and both of the counties she represents — Santa Barbara and Ventura — would suffer terrible impacts if Diablo Canyon underwent an accident. Ventura County was impacted by the Santa Susanna Field Laboratory’s multiple nuclear accidents starting in the 1950s. Why would Sen. Jackson risk more nuclear danger?

Given Sen. Monning and co-authors’ intent for his bill, it is doubtful that an evaluative group would do anything other than rubberstamp the original goal — to show that closing Diablo Canyon would cause adverse economic impacts to San Luis Obispo County (and also, to PG&E investors) – and thereby slow any process to close the plant.

When Monning states that the bill’s authors remain open to working with the groups in opposition, one thing is clear: for the authors, these environmental and health groups are the opposition. The authors are against reason, against the science, and against public safety.

Below is an unofficial transcript of the May 2 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. The links to the video are here:http://senate.ca.gov/media-archive – Videos, May 2, 2016 Appropriations Comm hearing

http://vod.senate.ca.gov/videos/2016/20160502_Appropriations_high.mp4

Appropriations Committee hearing, May 2, 2016

SB 968 goes from 10:20 – 17:28 on the video.

SB 968 – Diablo Canyon

Sen. Monning: Good morning, Chair, members.

Senate Bill 968 requires an economic assessment of the adverse and beneficial impacts that could occur in the event that the Diablo nuclear power plant shuts down. The economic assessment is an appropriate use of ratepayer funds, because allr atepayers have benefited from the energy generated from Diablo Canyon. There are past examples of ratepayers-funded studies only benefiting a single region.

Even if there is disagreement on this point, the actual impact to ratepayers will be de minimis.

San Luis Obispo’s economy is heavily reliant on Diablo Canyon which is why an independent accurate assessment to help identify ways to mitigate the impacts is indeed prudent.

I along with Asm. Achadjian have a duty to protect the region that we represent from economic harm, and SB 968 is a means for the San Luis Obispo community to plan and discuss in the event of the plant’s closure. I recognize this is a candidate for suspense and would urge an aye vote at the appropriate time. And we have a couple of witnesses in support. Thank you.

In support:

1 — Derek ? on behalf of the San Luis Coastal Unified School District. This is a school district that encompasses the power plant and surrounding region and so it’s really impacted by the local economy that’s brought to the area by PG&E and the power plants.

This nexus we think with state funding here is the fact that when the local economy becomes depressed because of a sudden instance like the closure of a power plant, we’d see an augmentation in state funding required under the local control funding formula and our unique funding system here in California. So we think that some point, there could bee a big augmentation devoted to this very school district and surrounding area, given its $80 million dollar annual operating budget and the fact that it might fall out of basic aid status. And so we urge you to support the bill.

2 — Good morning, Chair, members. Karen Lang (?) of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. This county collects almost $26 million dollars in property taxes from the existence of the plant. Obviously that goes to all the tax entities including the school district. With concerns about any sudden or over time closure of the plant, and so a third party analysis would be really helpful we think and we urge your aye vote when the time comes.

Witness in support:

In opposition:

1 — I am Molly Johnson. I am here to present the opposition of more than 30 environmental and other health organizations including Public Citizen, Greenpeace, LA and San Francisco Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, Northern Band Chumash Council

We remain troubled by the bill’s one-sided nature although it is getting better, and we are working with to continue that, Uit still focuses on adverse economic rather than a balanced, and we would like to it more balanced.

We do see that there has been an amount put to the bill which we did not see until just a little bit ago. So even though these matters are now touched upon by the staff report, we feel that this still is a wasteful expense unless it is a balanced bill. Thank you.

2 — Good morning. I am Tabez Zadi (sp?) and am appearing on behalf of the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles Chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility which has long worked to address nuclear risks. And Sen. Monning once served as Executive Director of PSR’s parent international physician’s organization.

And PSR’s opposition to his bill on Diablo Canyon is thus painful and hasn’t been entered into lightly. PSR reluctantly has concluded that this bill would be at variance with the fundamental principle “do no harm”. By calling on PG&E to submit an analysis of the supposedly adverse economic impacts of closing the plant at the end of its designed life with no discussion of impacts of a Fukushima-type disaster were the plant to keep running, the study would amount to a piece of advocacy for continued operation of this dangerous facility.

Each Diablo unit contains 1000 times a long-lived radioactivity of the Hiroshima bomb. Each year Diablo produces enough plutonium for hundreds of nuclear weapons as well as waste toxic for half a million years.

The plant was built based on the assumption there were no active earthquake faults within 30 kilometers. Now we know there are four. It is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

The public should not be forced to pay as taxpayers or ratepayers for a wasteful, unbalanced, and unnecessary report that may have the effect of implicitly pushing for the continuation of these risks. Thank you.

Monning: One slight correction on the opposition testimony. We do remain open to working with them. This would not be a study conducted by PGE&. It would be supported by an independent study. With that again, I would request at the appropriate time an aye vote.

——————-

More information:

http://mothersforpeace.org/blog/29-gaps-in-excellence-in-2014

http://nonukesca.net/?p=539

http://www.foe.org/news/news-releases/2015-03-diablo-pge-secretly-used-wrong-data-for-safety-equipment#sthash.8DQl1ReI.dpuf

https://healfukushima.org/2016/02/29/take-action-on-diablo-canyon-npp-tell-california-state-lands-commission-to-do-full-ceqa-review/

http://mothersforpeace.org/blog/topics-to-address-at-august-5-2015-nrc-meeting-in-slo

http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/ap-exclusive-expert-calls-diablo-canyon-shutdown/ng8Tj/

http://lompocrecord.com/news/opinion/mailbag/hartmann-nuke-risks-oil-trains/article_9f1703e4-4a34-5f16-997c-6be468a26bc9.html

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