Thursday, May 26, 2016     Volume: 17, Issue: 12
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Santa Maria Sun / Letters to the Editor

SB County shouldn't fund Diablo Canyon study

Joseph Riloquio - Santa Maria -

Diablo Canyon Power Plant is the last remaining nuclear power plant operating in California. The plant lies just 30 miles up the coast from Santa Maria, well within the range of the radiation fallout should a meltdown occur. A radiation release could affect hundreds of thousands of people. 

PG&E originally built Diablo based on the claim that there were no active earthquake faults in the vicinity. But since the licensing of the plant, four active faults have been discovered nearby: the Hosgri, San Luis Bay, Los Osos, and the Shoreline faults. The Shoreline Fault comes within just 300 meters of the plant. Despite the significant increase in seismic hazards, PG&E has continually failed to upgrade the plant adequately to withstand the seismic events that could occur.

A meltdown triggered by an earthquake, similar to the Fukushima disaster, is a real and dangerous threat at the Diablo Canyon facilities. Both reactors house extraordinarily dangerous amounts of radioactivity, and the radioactive plume would have crippling effects on the immediate areas, including the Santa Maria Valley and communities further downwind.

A new bill regarding Diablo, SB 968, is currently moving through the state Legislature. The bill was introduced by Sen. Bill Monning, who serves San Luis Obispo County but does not serve Santa Barbara County. SB 968 would require PG&E to produce an economic impact assessment, focusing largely on supposedly negative economic impacts on the SLO area if Diablo were to close. This study is one-sided, and does not consider the economic and environmental impacts should a meltdown or other accident occur, nor the benefits of transitioning to renewables.

Instead, the study will inevitably be used as justification for the continued operation of the plant, despite the failure to address the larger seismic and public safety issues. Moreover, this study is unnecessary; PG&E already conducted a study in 2013 that evaluated economic impacts should Diablo close. The results of that study, including job and tax revenue losses, are already available.

The fiscal impact of PG&E’s study would be significant. In their analysis, the Senate Committee on Appropriations identified a cost of $659,000, plus other unknown but significant costs. The committee also noted that PG&E would be allowed to recover these costs through the ratepayers, largely those outside of San Luis Obispo County. It’s inappropriate for the people of California, Santa Maria, and Santa Barbara County, to foot the bill for this study, because economic impacts of a closure would have little to no effect outside the San Luis Obispo area.

Diablo Canyon will inevitably close at some point in the future, either in 2024/2025 as long scheduled, or at some other point. When that happens, the energy will have to be replaced, presumably with clean, energy from renewable sources. Preparing for this closure with the goal of transitioning to safe, clean, renewable energy is much more appropriate, and could produce a significant number of jobs and tax revenues. SB 968 needs to be amended to provide a more appropriate study, or should be stopped altogether. 


Don't let people outside of the district elect our next representative

John Kelly - San Luis Obispo -

Now more than ever, it’s important for voters to do their own research when it comes to choosing your next representative. However, research doesn’t stop at what the candidates just say, but also what is not being said—whom they are raising money from. 

After hearing Bill Ostrander, one of the candidates in the 24th Congressional race, speak about the importance of campaign finance reform, I decided to look into the candidates running for Lois Capps’ seat. From all the 24th Congressional district candidates, one stood out like a soar thumb—Justin Fareed. 

An article in Santa Maria Times by Kenny Lindberg reported that more than 69.2 percent of Justin’s fundraising totals came from money outside of the district. I’m not a rocket scientist, but something does not add up when more than two-thirds of your donations are from outside interests. As a voter in the 24th District, I will not let outsiders decide what is best for my family and me. Who are these contributors and why do they care so much about a candidate who will not even represent them in Congress? I have asked these tough questions and you should too.


Porter and Christensen for supervisor

Jim Thomas - Santa Barbara County Sheriff, Ret. -

With the recent announcement that the Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association is backing Bruce Porter for 3rd District Supervisor and Jennifer Christensen for 1st District Supervisor, I thought it would be appropriate to add my two cents’ worth. Having the backing of the men and women who protect us every day is a powerful message. The Deputy Sheriffs’ Association is a local association, not a local chapter of a national union like the SEIU. These men and women live and work in our community and dedicate themselves to doing what most people would not do—putting their lives on the line so we can live in a peaceful community. 

Bruce Porter shared that experience in his role as an Army officer who saw his share of combat and experienced the pride of leading men and women in peace and in war. Jennifer Christensen has led in a different but important way in being a steward of our county’s funding.

I have lived in the 3rd District for 43 years. I was privileged to work in and lead the Sheriff’s Department for 30 years and was the County Fire Chief for three of those years. I know public safety. I have publically supported both Republican and Democratic supervisorial candidates. My sole basis for support was that they commit to ensuring that Santa Barbara County kept public safety as its first priority. Bruce Porter and Jennifer Christensen made that commitment from day one. 

I used to remind supervisors that when counties and cities were formed, the citizens’ first priority was to hire and elect their law enforcement leaders and ensure that their jurisdictions were financially secure. You can do the same in this important election. Please support Bruce Porter for 3rd District and Jennifer Christensen for 1st District supervisor. Our personal safety and financial well-being may well count on it.