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05.04.11

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Let's Not Forget

It's time to close California's nuclear power plants

By Norman Solomon


The facts all point to this inconvenient truth: the time has come to shut down California's two nuclear power plants as part of a swift transition to an energy policy focused on clean and green renewable sources and conservation.

The Diablo Canyon plant near San Luis Obispo and the San Onofre plant on the Southern California coast are vulnerable to meltdowns from earthquakes and threaten both residents and the environment. Each nuclear power plant creates radioactive waste that will remain deadly for thousands of years. This is not the kind of legacy that we should leave for future generations.

In the wake of Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown, we need a basic rethinking of the U.S.A.'s nuclear-energy use and oversight. There is no more technologically advanced country in the world than Japan. Nuclear power isn't safe there, and it isn't safe anywhere.

The perils are clear. In a recent letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein noted that "roughly 424,000 live within 50 miles of the Diablo Canyon and 7.4 million live within 50 miles of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station."

As someone who was an Obama delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, I believe it would be a tragic mistake for anyone to loyally accept the administration's nuclear policy. The White House is fundamentally mistaken in its efforts to triple the budgeting of federal loan guarantees for the domestic nuclear power industry, from $18 billion to $54 billion.

Our tax dollars should not be used to subsidize the nuclear power industry. The federal government has no business promoting this dangerous industry while safe and sustainable energy resources are readily available. The fact that federal law imposes a liability cap of roughly

$12 billion on a nuclear power accident is a reflection of the fact that those plants are uninsurable on the open market. People want bold and responsible leadership as we face up to the well-documented realities of nuclear power on this fragile planet.

Norman Solomon is exploring a run for Congress this year.


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