On April 10, 2018, the city of Ojai, California adopted a resolution declaring the city the first nuclear-free zone in decades. Against the backdrop of events over the past year, and recognizing the catastrophic human consequences of any use of nuclear weapons plus the exorbitant costs of nuclear weapons production and maintenance, the City Council adopted the resolution unanimously.
The background for our Resolution began last November when I approached one of our city council members about the proposal. He was supportive and encouraging of the process. On November 18th, during public comments, I challenged the City Council to take a stand on behalf of the citizens of Ojai regarding the greatest public health threat we face, that of nuclear war, and declare our city a nuclear-free zone. I encouraged them to consider a future response when our children’s children ask us: “What did you do when the planet was threatened?” We will be able to say we took a stand for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The Council that night agreed to put the Resolution on a future agenda.
One week later, the California Thomas fire started with Ojai at the epicenter. I requested our efforts be postponed until the city could return to some semblance of normalcy. On February 13, the Council Resolution was introduced by Councilmembers Francina and Weirick. Speaking on behalf of the Resolution, I advised the Council that as city leaders and first responders—just as in our recent fire—they had a responsibility to protect the citizens of Ojai. I stated—as a physician—that there was no adequate response to a nuclear attack and that prevention by abolition of these weapons was the only response. After discussion, the Council unanimously voted to consider the Resolution.
At their April 10th meeting, the Council announced that the Resolution was adopted unanimously!
This bold Resolution has three main components.
First, it adopts the five point “Back From The Brink” resolution that many PSR chapters are championing. “The city council, on behalf of the residents of Ojai, call on the United States and our elected officials to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war” via:
Renounce the option of using nuclear weapons first.
End the president’s sole, unchecked authority to launch a nuclear attack.
Take U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert.
Cancel the plan to replace the entire U.S. arsenal with enhanced weapons.
Actively pursue a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.
Secondly, the City Council declares Ojai a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone by prohibiting a variety of nuclear weapons-related activities within the city.
The third section, titled “Nuclear Free Contracts and Investments,” includes guidelines for city contracting and investment of funds. The resolution calls for divestment from institutions and companies that are involved in the financing, manufacture, development, stockpiling and testing of nuclear weapons.
Recognizing that Ojai is but one small Southern California community, the resolution concludes with this appeal to other communities:
“Conscious of the magnitude of destructive capacity of modern nuclear weapons, we recognize that our proposal would have little meaning on its own. We therefore appeal to our neighboring counties and cities to make similar statements on the half of the citizens they represent”.
This appeal has already had an effect on neighboring communities. A group of middle school students from R.J. Frank Academy of Marine Science and Engineering, aware of the Ojai action, just challenged the city of Oxnard to protect their future and adopt a similar resolution. California State Assembly member Monique Limón has introduced California Joint Resolution 33 calling on the state to adopt the “Back From the Brink” resolution. Ultimately, we all have an opportunity and role to play in bringing forth a future free of nuclear weapons.
One of these resolutions is about nuclear power. This resolution advances the interests of the nuclear power industry.
Astonishingly, it states
“In the absence of a public safety or environmental concern, the premature shutdown of these valuable assets may cause economic, social, reliability and environmental harm to families and businesses”.
The public utility commissioners ignored all the safety issues and problems from these plants. That is shocking. Was the accelerating Fukushima disaster even mentioned in their deliberations? What about the harm from not shutting down these plants and from the new ones they plan to build?
This resolution, directed to the Environmental Protection Agency, now represents the official position of the utility regulatory commissions in the United States.
For more information on this conference, here is the conference schedule of workshops and presenters
Note: “Baseload power” is an energy industry term for energy that is dependable and constant “all-the-time-on” power. Currently, that comes from coal, natural gas, nuclear, oil. To flip on a light switch and have the light always turn on requires baseload power. Wind and solar power are not baseload, because they are variable and undependable.
EL-1 Resolution Recognizing the Importance of Nuclear Power in Meeting Greenhouse Gas Goals
WHEREAS, Reliable, clean and affordable electricity is vital to local, State, and national economic growth, jobs, and the overall interests of citizens; and
WHEREAS, As demonstrated during the Polar Vortex of 2014, maintaining reliability and fuel diversity; while ensuring compliance with proposed carbon reduction rules, are common challenges for our States and we jointly recognize the need to maintain the existing, baseload nuclear generation fleet; and
WHEREAS, Nuclear power plants provide approximately 20% of the nation’s total electricity generation, and can provide carbon-free electricity for decades into the future; and
WHEREAS, On June 2, 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued proposed regulations for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants, known as the Clean Power Plan, in which EPA identified the avoidance of the retirement of existing nuclear capacity as one of the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) methods;[i]1and
WHEREAS, EPA states in its proposed regulations that policies “that…discourage premature retirement of nuclear capacity could be useful elements of GHG reduction strategies and are consistent with current industry behavior;” [ii]and
WHEREAS, Nuclear energy has played a substantial role in the achievement of existing GHG State or regional emission reduction goals to date, and continued operation of nuclear power plants is vital to States’ ability to economically meet new federal regulations, and provides an essential tool to manage risks associated with potential GHG emissions reduction requirements; and
WHEREAS, In the absence of a public safety or environmental concern, the premature shutdown of these valuable assets may cause economic, social, reliability and environmental harm to families and businesses;and
WHEREAS, The United States Department of Energy, grid operators, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioners have cautioned that the premature shutdown of nuclear power plants could jeopardize both the nation’s electric reliability and the ability to timely address climate change; and
WHEREAS, The EPA’s proposed GHG regulations for existing power plants would lower a State’s allowed GHG emissions rate by counting approximately 6 percent of its nuclear capacity as being “at risk” and including this zero-carbon energy in the goal-setting formula, leading to lower (more stringent) emission rate targets for States that have nuclear power plants; and
WHEREAS, The EPA’s proposed rule treats new nuclear power plants under construction as though they are already operating, and uses their output in the rate-setting formula, which drives down the States’ emission rate goals, and
WHEREAS, State commission actions to approve the uprating of existing nuclear power plants or the siting of new nuclear power plants have and will play a substantial role in GHG emissions reduction goals; now, therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, convened at its 126th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, urges the EPA, to the extent it regulates carbon from existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, to adopt final GHG rules and regulations that: 1) will encourage States to preserve, life-extend, and expand existing nuclear generation; and 2) remove the generic approximately 6 percent at-risk nuclear and nuclear under construction from the calculation of State-specific emissions targets; and be it further
RESOLVED, That, to the extent the EPA regulates carbon from existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, that States may include in compliance plans and thus receive emissions credit related to all output of new nuclear capacity (including uprates of existing plants) that begins operating after the issuance date of the proposed rule.
Sponsored by the Committee on Electricity
Recommended by the NARUC Board of Directors November 18, 2014
Adopted by the NARUC Committee of the Whole November 19, 2014
[i] ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, 40 CFR Part 60, [EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602; RIN 2060-AR33, Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, June 2, 2014, at p. 114.