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]