— Diablo Canyon: Letter to California Committee on Energy in opposition to SB 968

From San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace:

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace is one of 30 organizations going on record as opposing SB 968. That bill as proposed would focus on the adverse economic impacts to be expected when the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant shuts down. It fails to look at the advantages of plant closure or at opportunities for creating jobs by investing in more sources of renewable energy.

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace
Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles Southern California Federation of Scientists
Food and Water Watch
Green Action for Health and Environmental Justice Desert Protection Society
Committee to Bridge the Gap
Ecological Options Network
CodePink Women for Peace, Golden Gate Chapter
No Nukes Action Team
Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS)
Nuclear Hotseat
Nuclear Watch South
People of Faith for Justice
Residents Organized for Safe Energy (ROSE) Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition
San Francisco Occupy Forum Environmental Working Group San Onofre Safety
Sunflower Alliance
Teens Against Toxins

Women for: Orange County
Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) West Berkeley Alliance for Clean Energy and Safe Jobs Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Santa Cruz Green Party of San Luis Obispo
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Public Citizen
Northern Chumash Tribal Council

March 23, 2016

The Honorable Ben Hueso, Chair
And Members
Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications California Senate
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: SB 968 (Monning) – Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant – OPPOSE

Dear Chair Hueso and Committee Members:

SB968 would require Pacific Gas and Electric Company to submit an assessment of the adverse economic impact for the region surrounding the County of San Luis Obispo that could occur if the Diablo Canyon power plant Units 1 and 2 were to temporarily or permanently shut down. We urge a “no” vote.


Diablo Canyon represents one of the greatest environmental, public health, and economic threats to much of California. Each reactor contains 1000 times the long-lived radioactivity of the Hiroshima bomb. The plant was built based on the assertion that there were no active earthquake faults within 30 kilometers. We now know there are at least FOUR faults, one of which is just a few hundred meters from the plant. The ground motion from an earthquake on any of those faults could be far greater than the plant was built to withstand. Just as at Fukushima, the fifth anniversary of which is now, a quake larger than the plant was designed for could release massive radioactivity and devastate a significant part of our state.

The original construction began in 1967. Diablo was designed and licensed to operate for 40 years. Unit 1 was licensed in 1984 and Unit 2 in 1985. Some of the equipment is already over 40 years old. Nuclear proponents are pushing to extend operations for decades more. The risks are just too great. We need to quickly transition from Diablo to renewables, and it must not be allowed to run beyond its design life and original license period.

Reasons for Opposition to Bill

  1. The bill is unbalanced. It orders a study of the adverse economic impacts of a plant shutdown. It does not consider the benefits of such a shutdown. Intentionally or not, the bill’s provisions pave the way for approval to extend Diablo Canyon operations beyond its original design life. As written, the bill does not address the adverse environmental, health, and economic impacts of a meltdown or other types of radiation releases.
  2. The bill is conceptually flawed. When Diablo closes—as it must at some point—that isn’t the end of the story. The electricity produced by Diablo will be replaced by new power sources, many of them renewables. These will produce jobs and tax revenues and other economic, environmental and health benefits. The issue is not simply what will be lost by a shutdown, but also what will be gained.
  3. There is no need for the requested analysis. PG&E in 2013 sponsored a study of the economic impacts of the plant. The number of jobs and the taxes paid are already well known. The requested new report is redundant and unnecessary, and would impose on ratepayers an expense for no benefit.
  4. We recognize that the idea, briefly referenced in the bill, of also studying mitigation measures for job and tax loss may seem at first glance attractive, but the bill doesn’t do anything substantive in that regard, and the harmful aspects of the rest of the bill in terms of aiding in the push for continued operation beyond the original license period far outweighs that.
  1. The real need, which is not addressed in the bill, is for the state (e.g., the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission) to commence planning for the transition from Diablo Canyon to renewables. The licenses for Diablo expire 8-9 years from now. Thoughtful planning for transitioning to new renewables needs to begin now. This would be a triple win: eliminating the risk of a nuclear disaster in California, building up more renewables, and the jobs and other economic benefits from them. But the bill does nothing to get the state on the path to that transition.
  2. The bill would have PG&E identify contractors to perform the study, from which the CPUC would select a supposedly “independent 3rd party” to do the analysis. Given the troubled nature of the CPUC, the history of a too-cozy relationship with PG&E, the controversy over the illegal ex parte communications with PG&E, and the CPUC’s weak oversight of PG&E that contributed to the San Bruno disaster, the prospect remains high that the CPUC would merely select whomever PG&E wants. We note that a similar process resulted in a failure to select a truly “independent 3rd party” to conduct a review of PG&E’s proposal for an exemption from the Water Board’s Once Through Cooling (OTC) Policy. The Water Board was supposed to arrange for an “independent 3rd party” for this purpose, to be paid for by PG&E, but PG&E’s influence resulted in the selection of the Bechtel Corporation, which had in fact helped PG&E construct Diablo Canyon and which produced a report backing PG&E. The Bechtel report was called into question by many observers.
  3. The bill fails to put the state on record that Diablo Canyon should not run for decades longer than it was originally designed and licensed.

In summary the analysis the bill calls for is unnecessary and unbalanced and could amount to a state-ordered piece of advocacy for forces pushing for Diablo Canyon to operate far beyond its original design and license life. This could have great negative impacts on California. We recognize that this is not the intent of the author or co-authors, but nonetheless conclude there would be serious unintended consequences of the bill. We urge a “NO” vote.


Azul, Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš

CodePink Women for Peace, Golden Gate Chapter, Cynthia Papermaster

Committee to Bridge the Gap, Catherine Lincoln

Desert Protection Society, Donna Charpied

Ecological Options Network
Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle

Food and Water Watch, Wenonah Hauter

Green Action for Health and Environmental Justice, Bradley Angel

Green Party of San Luis Obispo, Peggy Koteen

Greenpeace, Jim Riccio

No Nukes Action Team, Chizu Hamada

Northern Chumash Tribal Council, Fred Collins

Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), David Kraft

Nuclear Hotseat, Libbe HaLevy

Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Diane D’Arrigo

Nuclear Watch South, Glenn Carroll

People of Faith for Justice, Richard Kurrash

Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, Denise Duffield

Public Citizen, Allison Fisher

Residents Organized for Safe Energy (ROSE), Gene Stone

Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition, Cindi Gortner

San Francisco Occupy Forum Environmental Working, Group Cynthia Papermaster

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, Jane Swanson

San Onofre Safety, Donna Gilmore

Southern California Federation of Scientists, Sheldon C. Plotkin, Ph.D.

Sunflower Alliance, Shoshanna Wäscher

Teens Against Toxins, Davis Gortner

Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment), Marylia Kelley

West Berkeley Alliance for Clean Energy and Safe Jobs, Janice Schroeder

Women for: Orange County, Judy Curry

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Santa Cruz Sandy Silver