Month: June 2016

Transcript: Betty Yee’s Closing Remarks re Diablo Canyon Nuke Plant Lease Renewal

This past Tuesday, June 28, 2016 the California State Land Commission met to hear public and staff comment, and to decide whether the Commission should extend PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuke plant leases of the People of California’s coastal tidelands beyond 2018 and 2019.   In a last minute turn around the commission staff recommended the leases be be extended without a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) required Environmental Impact Report (EIR)  

Here is a transcript of California State Land Commissioner Betty T. Yee’s closing remarks:

 

Betty Yee: I’ll start.

Gavin Newsom: I’ll pick up on it

Betty Yee: All right.

Gavin Newsom: Either one of us. We gotta upack all of this.

Betty Yee: We do have to unpack all this. And actually Commissioner Newsom, I took to heart – I think your guidance to all of us a few months ago and that is that we have to the stewards of fact with respect to how we move forward. And uh these are not easy issues. I have uh um – I did take time to visit Diablo Canyon Power Plant, and uh had an opportunity to really understand the operation and to meet some of the employees. Uh and first I just have to say um hats off to you for forty years of reliable service, and professional service. It is something that we don’t applaud – frankly – uh, in terms of how we – where we come since the plant was first constructed. That I was struck by how safety is by far the foremost concern in that facility from every aspect of the operation – to every conversation that I had with every employee on that site. It all had to do with safety and reliability.

And what I want to say about the CEQA issue is this – uh – you know I think we live in times where were just surrounded by a lot of uncertainty. And I do think we’ve heard a lot of speculation. I’m not sure that I’m comfortable that I’ve heard a lot of facts. Uh – my own sense of the authority that this Commission can exercise independently is that – uh – the uh – the uh facts are not there. And frankly I feel like if they were there we would have grabbed onto them already.

And so – uh – I know we live in dangerous times with respect to seismic risks. This is a different world with respect to being susceptible to terrorism and acts of terrorism. But we also have – um – I think a responsibility here to balance all of these different interests and needs.

And – uh – yeah with respect to the issue of the marine life and um what we can expect if um the Commission decides to approve these leases – uh – I do want to say that you know a lot of work has actually been done at this State Water Resources Control Board with respect to mitigation measures – um to ensure compliance with the Once Through Cooling Policy – and uh – I think – um – if this Commission is prepared to approve the leases – I would like to direct staff to um – just call on the Water Resources Control Board to remind them that we do want them to um fully implement those mitigation measures to ensure compliance. These are not new requirements – these have been established – uh – I think people are familiar with what they are – all parties are familiar with what they are – but this is about – um – really – all state agencies – all hands on deck to be sure that we’re moving forward responsibly. And there are going to be a lot of agencies – state and federal and local involved – uh – in the transition – uh should this Commission approve the leases um to look at what will transpire over the next nine years.

The other aspect I just want to comment about is that um – I really encourage PG&E and frankly all of the ah regulatory agencies and oversight agencies throughout this process to err on the side of more public input – um – I heard a lot of information today that frankly was shared uh really out of ignorance – and – there is a lot of misinformation going back and forth – this is not the time for that – and I think – uh – I just wanna get a commitment from PG&E that in terms of the public input process in the next thirty days that uh it will also include public education and really uh – having the patience to answer any and all questions with respect to what we’re really facing uh in this agreement that you have entered into with uh various parties of the environmental community.

So – um – given that this is a tough decision – um – Mr. Geesman, you’ve admonished us and in terms of our voting to live with this decision – it is a serious decision – and uh – but frankly I go to sleep every night feeling susceptible to a lot of different threats – and uh – to the extent that I continue to serve on this body I’m gonna be sure that – um – whatever process unfolds – and much of it before the CPUC that uh can be assured that this uh transition happens responsibly – so I’m – I am prepared to accept the staff recommendation.  [end transcript]

Betty Yee, Then candidate for California State Controller. October 8, 2014, Santa Monica, California.

Betty Yee, Then candidate for California State Controller. October 8, 2014, Santa Monica, California.

 

 

Diablo Shutdown Marks End of Atomic Era

By Harvey Wasserman

June 23, 2016

As worldwide headlines have proclaimed, California’s Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) says it will shut its giant Diablo Canyon reactors near San Luis Obispo, and that the power they’ve been producing will be replaced by renewable energy.

PG&E has also earmarked some $350 million to “retain and retrain” Diablo’s workforce, whose union has signed on to the deal, which was crafted in large part by major environmental groups.

On a global scale, in many important ways, this marks the highest profile step yet towards the death of U.S. nuclear power and a national transition to a Solartopian green-powered planet.

diablo solartopia 6.23.2016

For Californians, as we shall see, there’s an army of devils in the details, which cannot be ignored. But let’s deal with the big picture first.

The three most important lines on nuke power’s Diablo tombstone may be these:

1. A major U.S. utility has admitted that the energy from a nuke—one of the world’s biggest—can be effectively replaced with renewables.

Over the past decade the nuke industry has spent more than $500,000,000 hyping an utterly failed “nuclear renaissance” partly on the premise that green power can’t make up for the energy production lost by shutting reactors. One of the world’s top nuclear utilities has now signed a major public document saying that this is not true.

2. A major union has approved an agreement that provides retraining for soon-to-be-displaced workers at a soon-to-be-shut nuke.

For years the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and other unions representing atomic workers have fought reactor shut-downs because of lost jobs. The IBEW’s partnership in this agreement shows that with planning and funding, a smooth transition for displaced reactor workforces can be charted.

3. The agreement was crafted with leadership from two major national environmental organizations—Friends of the Earth (FOE) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The corporate “nuclear renaissance” hype has conjured up a cadre of “environmentalists for nuclear power.”  Like clockwork the corporate media breathlessly reports from time to time that formerly green activists are now flocking like lemmings to the atomic sea.

Thus the Wall Street Journal recently published a major feature alleging a pro-nuke shift at the Sierra Club, which it then mutated into yet another re-run of the “greens for atoms” meme. The piece was sharply denounced by Sierra Club’s executive director Michael Brune, who reaffirmed the club’s staunch opposition to nuke power.

As environmental mainstays, FOE and NRDC’s role in this Diablo agreement re-confirms the core stance of a green community whose “No Nukes” stance has deepened since Fukushima and with the rise of renewables.  Greenpeace, the Abalone Alliance, Mothers for Peace, Alliance 4 Nuclear Responsibility, World Business Academy in Santa Barbara and many others hold more fiercely than ever to the anti-nuke/pro-renewables positions they’ve sustained for decades.

A tiny, top-down “greens for nukes” front group is currently shouting around California in support of Diablo.  But this agreement renders the “atomic environmentalist” charade even more marginal.

Meanwhile corporate media outlets throughout U.S. have accepted this Diablo news as nuclear power’s definitive death notice. The SFGate called it the “End of an Atomic Era.” I saw it reported that way on a streaming news wire high above downtown Cleveland. What Linda Seeley, a multi-decade veteran of the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, thought was a local radio interview went nationwide on NPR.

Closing Diablo will make our largest state nuke-free. The agreement embodies the sixth and seventh U.S. reactor shut-downs announced in the last month, the fifteenth and sixteenth since 2012. WPPSS2, the only other operating reactor on the west coast, is bleeding cash and may be among the next to go.

Safe energy activists can warmly embrace this announcement. More have been arrested at Diablo than any other U.S nuke. This would never have happened without citizen activism.

So all you tried and true “No Nukes” greenies … go out and have a party!

But … then listen to the rest of the news, and get back to work.

• What PG&E has actually announced is something that’s been expected for quite a while, which is that it won’t pursue NRC re-licensing. The agreement thus predicts closures in 2024 and 2025, when Diablo’s current licenses expire.

• But unlicensed operations continue at New York’s Indian Point. Fail-proof legal safeguards are needed to make sure that doesn’t happen at Diablo.

• The agreement comes just prior to a crucial June 28 hearing in front of the California State Lands Commission. PG&E wants the State Land Commission to renew leases issued in 1969 and 1970 that allow Diablo’s cooling systems to pollute coastal territory. Just after that, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the California Environmental Quality Act, imposing a wide range of requirements and reporting on state lands. Diablo can’t meet those requirements, and PG&E doesn’t want to do the studies.

At least two of the three commissioners have indicated they would expect PG&E to now comply with CEQA. But many fear this agreement might incline them to now let those requirements go unenforced until the alleged new shut-down date, rather than forcing the reactors to close in 2018 and 2019, when the leases expire. Grassroots activists are circulating petitions and exerting as much pressure as they can to make sure the commissioners hold the line.

• PG&E is now in what amounts to a federal murder trial, and may hope this agreement will soften the prosecution. Despite repeated warnings, in 2010 the company’s badly maintained gas network blew up in San Bruno. It killed eight people through what amounts to criminal negligence. The usually docile California Public Utilities Commission has already fined the company $1.4 billion. PG&E executives may see this agreement as something of a federal plea bargain in an extremely serious prosecution.

• Worldwide studies show cancer and infant disease rates climb when reactors open, and decline when they shut. Such numbers have been confirmed at Diablo and at Rancho Seco in studies commissioned by the World Business Academy, which warns that the longer Diablo operates, the more the public health will suffer.

• Diablo is in clear violation of state and federal water quality laws. It daily sucks in 2.5 billion gallons of sea water which it returns far hotter (18-20 degrees Farenheit) than allowable. Regulatory hearings on the near horizon would tell whether PG&E will be forced to build cooling towers to spew the heat into the air instead of the water. Cooling tower cost estimates range from $2 billion to $14 billion. Should the towers be required, PG&E would face a wild melee over who’d pay for them. But faced with a shut-down date, regulators might just let Diablo continue in violation (as has been done at New Jersey’s Oyster Creek).

• PG&E may be short hundreds of millions of dollars in funds necessary to decommission Diablo. Bitter disputes have already erupted over decommissioning San Onofre and other down U.S. reactors, including Vermont Yankee. Major technical problems, including serious leaks, have already emerged at Diablo and are certain to escalate in both confrontation and cost.

• PG&E and its fellow centralized utilities worldwide are terrified of home-owned roof-top solar panels, whose escalating spread could spell their doom. While hyping its entry into the solar world, PG&E will continue to assault net-metering and other essentials of the distributed generation revolution that threatens its core.

• The agreement includes no guarantee from Mother Nature that one of the dozen earthquake faults surrounding the plant won’t go off before the reactors finally shut. Diablo is half the distance from the San Andreas that Fukushima was from the epicenter of the quake that destroyed it. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s former resident inspector Dr. Michael Peck has warned PG&E has never proven Diablo could withstand such a shock.

• Tsunami expert Dr. Robert Sewell has also testified that a nearby undersea landslide could cause a wave capable of destroying Diablo, including its vulnerable intake pipes. His official report has been buried by the NRC for more than a decade.

There is more …

But above all, no independent observer believes PG&E has signed this agreement out of love for the planet, its workers, the public well-being or the spirit of the law. It could mark a significant leap toward shutting Diablo Canyon, but it does not seal its fate. Indeed, unless accompanied with fierce activism, some fear it could offer PG&E political cover to prolong its operations.

Globally, this landmark treaty embodies a nuclear utility’s admission that renewables can replace nukes, that union-endorsed provisions can ease the transition for workers at closing reactors and that a purported “green shift” to nuke power is mere industry hype.

None of which mitigates the reality Diablo Canyon could be melting as you read this. No matter what this agreement says, no matter when the anointed close-down date … until those reactors at Diablo Canyon are dead, dismantled and somehow buried, we all live at the brink of a potential apocalypse.

Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.solartopia.org, along with his upcoming AMERICA AT THE BRINK OF REBIRTH: THE ORGANIC SPIRAL OF US HISTORY.  With Bob Fitrakis he has co-authored six books on election protection (www.freepress.org). He was arrested at Diablo Canyon in 1984. 

==============

Diablo Shutdown Marks End of Atomic Era by Harvey Wasserman is crossposted at EcoWatch.com

5 More U.S. Nukes to Close, Will Diablo Canyon Be Next?

by Harvey Wasserman

June 17, 2016

(cross-posted at ecowatch.com)

A  rising tsunami of U.S. nuke shut-downs may soon include California’s infamous Diablo Canyon double reactors. But it depends on citizen action, including a statewide petition.

Five U.S. reactor closures have been announced within the past month. A green regulatory decision on California’s environmental standards could push the number to seven.

diablo 4 harvey 6.17.2016

The focus is now on a critical June 28 California State Lands Commission meeting. Set for Sacramento, the hearing could help make the Golden State totally nuke free, ending the catastrophic radioactive and global warming impacts caused by these failing plants. A public simulcast of the Sacramento meeting is expected to gather a large crowd at the Morro Bay Community Center near the reactor site. The meeting starts at 10 a.m., but environmental groups will rally outside the community center starting at 9 a.m.

The three State Lands Commissioners will decide whether to require a legally-mandated Environmental Impact Report under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). If ordered, a public scoping process will begin, allowing interested groups and individuals to weigh in on the environmental impacts of operation of two nuclear reactors on California’s fragile coastline.

In 1969 and 1970 PG&E got state leases for tidewater acreage for Diablo’s cooling system. These leases are set to expire in 2018 and 2019. If the State Lands Commission does not renew them, both reactors will be forced to shut down.

Signed in 1970 by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, CEQA requires more extensive Environmental Impact Reports on such leases. Included among the issues to be evaluated are water quality, potential damage to human and other life forms, chemical and radiation releases, and impacts on threatened and endangered species. The commission will not decide whether Diablo will continue to operate, only whether it will now be required to meet CEQA standards.

Pro-nukers say PG&E is at the brink of shutting Diablo’s reactors. They cannot economically compete with renewables or gas and are sustained by an intricate network of subsidies, liability protection and tax breaks. Many believe the cost of new environmental studies and of meeting updated standards would be a death blow. More protestors have been arrested at Diablo than any other American nuke, and the public pressure to finally shut it is intense.

One of the commissioners is Gavin Newsom, California’s Lieutenant Governor, 2018’s leading gubernatorial candidate. Newsom said he sees no long-term future for Diablo.

Another commissioner, state controller Betty Yee, is widely thought to favor the requirement.

State finance director Michael Cohen is the third commissioner. He generally votes as instructed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Brown opposed Diablo early in his career, but has recently waffled.

Among other things, Diablo dumps daily some 2.5 billion gallons of super-heated water into the ocean, killing vast quantities of marine life and worsening the global climate crisis. The project’s chemical runoff infamously killed millions of abalone years before it operated.

Diablo may soon face regulatory challenges from other state and federal agencies that could, among other things, require cooling towers, at a cost of up to $14 billion. PG&E would then face a fierce public fight over who would pay for them.

Diablo is surrounded by a dozen earthquake faults. It is half the distance from the San Andreas as was Fukushima from the shock that destroyed it. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s former resident inspector Dr. Michael Peck has warned Diablo might not survive a similar quake. Such a disaster would irradiate the Central Valley, which supplies much of the U.S. with its fruits, nuts and vegetables. It would send radioactive clouds into Los Angeles within about five hours, and across virtually the entire continental U.S.

Closing Diablo would make California entirely nuke-free. Grassroots activists, with help from U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Friends of the Earth, recently shut two big reactors at San Onofre, between Los Angeles and San Diego. They also closed plants at Rancho Seco (near Sacramento) and Humboldt Bay, and stopped proposed projects at Bodega and Bakersfield.

Along with most nukes around the world, the only other remaining west coast reactor, WPPS2 on Washington’s Hanford military reservation, is also losing massive amounts of money.

Because they can’t evenly compete with renewable energy or gas, a tsunami of shut-downs has swept away a dozen U.S. reactors since October, 2012. Dozens more teeter at the brink, including two at Indian Point, just north of Manhattan, and Ohio’s rapidly crumbling Davis-Besse reactor near Toledo.

In Japan, more than 40 reactors remain shut despite intense government pressure to reopen them in the wake of the Fukushima catastrophe. Germany’s energiewende conversion to 100 percent renewables, which aims to shut all its reactors by 2022, is ahead of schedule and under budget. Much of the rest of Europe, including France, is now moving that way.

Should California follow suit at Diablo, its conversion to a wholly green-powered economy would accelerate, likely leading Los Angeles to become the world’s first Solartopian megalopolis.

Ironically, with citizen action, a big push in that direction could now come from a state commission’s decision to enforce environmental protections signed into law by California’s most pro-nuke governor.

Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is atwww.solartopia.org, along with his upcoming AMERICA AT THE BRINK OF REBIRTH: THE ORGANIC SPIRAL OF U.S. HISTORY. He has co-written six books on election protection with Bob Fitrakis (www.freepress.org), and was arrested at Diablo Canyon in 1984.

 

 

The Iconic Peace Ship Golden Rule Is Hit by a Police Boat!

By Harvey Wasserman

(cross posted at Reader Supported News)

June 13, 2016

golden rule

he good ship Golden Rule is a miracle of the modern peace movement. In its iconic quest for global peace and ecological sanity, it has been re-floated, revived … and now hit by a police boat!!!

The boat was first launched from a dock near Los Angeles in 1958 by Quaker activists intending to sail into the Marshall Islands to stop nuclear weapons testing.

Among those present was the legendary singer John Raitt, star of the stage shows Carousel and Oklahoma, and leading man in the film Pajama Game. His daughter, multiple-Grammy-winner Bonnie Raitt, has carried on the tradition of No Nukes commitment throughout her stellar career.

The 1950s Golden Rule crew of four were arrested before they could get into the test zone. One sailor for peace, Jim Peck, contracted tuberculosis while imprisoned in Honolulu.

But their cause was picked up by another boat, the Hiroshima Phoenix, which did affect the testing. The entire effort contributed mightily to a global disarmament movement that won a lasting atmospheric test ban in 1963. Millions of living creatures (possibly including you) have been saved from death and disease by the halt in radioactive fallout from the US and USSR’s flood of bombs.

The Golden Rule subsequently sank in Humboldt Bay, California. But in 2010 it was rescued by Leroy Zerlang. A crew led by Chuck DeWitt of Veterans for Peace spent five years restoring her to seaworthiness, and the Golden Rule was relaunched on June 20, 2015.

On June 8, 2016, the reborn Golden Rule sailed into Portland, Oregon, to “greet” Fleet Week – an annual maritime invasion of US and Canadian warships meant to put on a public display of military might. This year the warships include a PT boat and numerous other armed vessels.

On Thursday, June 9, the Golden Rule set sail around 1:00 p.m. to travel up the Willamette River. The drizzle was steady. The purpose was to show our colors for peace amidst the fleet week warships.

With the ship moving by motor power, the crew unfurled large red sails featuring its peace sign and the Veterans for Peace logo. Through the gray, chilly chop, the ship sailed peacefully around the men of war. There was no intent to stage a blockade or to do civil disobedience.

In the steady rain, podcasting via cell phone from the ship’s deck, the “Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show” was wet but sustainable. It featured activists Helen Jaccard and Mimi German, who discussed the ship’s history and the movement in the northwest to shut the WPPS2 nuclear power plant, the region’s last operating commercial reactor, which is losing tens of millions of dollars per year.

Finally, while preparing to sail back to dock, the Golden Rule idled behind a drawbridge, waiting for it to rise. Suddenly a Washington County patrol boat with a two-man crew came along our starboard side. The Golden Rule had been peacefully boarded at least once during the day, and there was extensive, cordial communication between us and various police patrols.

But while inexplicably floating right next to the Golden Rule, the Washington County boat suddenly gunned its engine. Neither its lights nor sirens were on. As it turned sharply away, the sharp corner of its rear smacked into the hull of the Golden Rule, about a yard directly below my feet.

“The Sheriff’s Patrol boat made an emergency maneuver to avoid an impending serious collision,” says an official press release. “The port aft of the Sheriff’s Patrol boat collided with the starboard of the sailboat.” The Sheriff’s office says the damage was “minor.”

In a separate statement, the crew of the Golden Rule called the damage “cosmetic” and said, “We were unintentionally ‘hit’ by incompetent Sheriff’s deputies.”

Standing directly above the point where the police boat’s tail smacked into our hull, it wasn’t clear to me what the two officers meant to do, or why they had sailed in choppy waters to sit within just a few feet of us. The officer in the back of the boat in stood in clear view about fifty feet from me. He showed no emotion when his boat hit the Golden Rule. I could not see the driver.

But activists working with the Golden Rule cite ongoing problems. “They decided to come up on us without any warning or signals,” says Jaccard, of Veterans for Peace. “They were not in control of their boat.”

“It was an act of aggression,” says German, of No Nukes NW. “They fucking rammed The Golden Rule peace boat!”

Meanwhile, the ship will be sailing throughout the West Coast promoting the cause of peace.

Some 58 years after its maiden voyage, this legendary little boat is once again at center stage in the global struggle against the nuclear madness.

In a nation bristling with atomic weapons and reactors, where innocent civilians are regularly gunned down en masse, this graceful vessel represents an ark of civility, nonviolence and hope.

Six decades after it first helped stop a bomb-testing program that spewed deadly radiation throughout the atmosphere and threatened all life on Earth, the Golden Rule is back to say that peace is possible … and essential to our survival.

 


 

Harvey Wasserman’s America at the Brink of Rebirth: The Organic Spiral of Us History can be had via www.solartopia.org. The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft, co-written with Bob Fitrakis, is at www.freepress.org.

© 2017 Solartopia.org

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑