Scott Marks 4:19 p.m., June 19
California Nuclear Initiative, a group that has circulated petitions in an attempt to place its Nuclear Waste Act of 2012 on the November ballot, announced last week that it has asked the California Supreme Court to put its measure up for public vote.
The group, led by Ben Davis Jr., responsible for an initiative in the late eighties that shuttered the Rancho Seco nuclear plant near Sacramento, says that the fiscal analysis drafted by the state that accompanies the petition contains “unsubstantiated, false and misleading statements which lead the voters to believe that closing our State’s nuclear power plants would cause rolling blackouts costing tens of billions of dollars annually.”
The Act would require that active nuclear generating facilities in the state, which include San Diego County’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and the Diablo Canyon plant on the state’s central coast, be shuttered until a feasible long-term plan for storage of the highly radioactive nuclear waste generated by the facilities was implemented. Currently, all nuclear waste generated over the last several decades is stored on-site in temporary containment vessels at both active plants and at a third site near Humboldt that has been shut down since 1976.
Supporters of the initiative are asking the court to place the measure on the ballot despite not having yet gathered the required number of signatures. They also wish to have the fiscal analysis language revised to a more favorable and, according to the group, more accurate assessment.
At present, the analysis reads:
“Likely major impacts on state and local finances in the near term in the form of decreased revenues and increased costs, potentially in the billions of dollars annually, due to near-term disruptions in the state’s electricity system and ongoing electricity price increases. The magnitude of these impacts would depend on the frequency and duration of rolling blackouts. Potential major state costs to compensate utilities for investment losses resulting from the mandated shutdown of their nuclear power plants. Potential avoidance of future state and local government costs and lost revenues in the rare event of a major nuclear power plant incident.”
It is argued that significant advances in renewable energy technology, the ability of the state to import power from other regions, and the ongoing shutdown of the San Onofre plant without power interruption to utility customers combine to reduce both the risks and potential costs identified in the fiscal analysis.