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San Onofre Shutdown: Will It Affect California’s Push For Clean Air?

Aired 6/12/13 on KPBS News.

San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts weighs in on how the nuclear plant's shutdown will affect California's mandate for fewer greenhouse emissions by 2020.

The operator of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station announced its permanently shutting the plant's doors, and that means the power it once generated will have to come from somewhere else.

At its peak, the nuclear plant powered 1.4 million homes, but those residents will need another source now that Southern California Edison has permanently taken the station's reactors offline.

San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts said that will likely mean turning to energy that is less clean, at least for now.

"The short term is that we're going to have some emissions somewhere," Roberts said. "The long term – to have a short-term nuclear risk versus the long-term global warming issues, this is an easy thing to figure out: Of course you are going to close that if you can't do it safely.”

Roberts said when it came to safety, closing the plant was a no-brainer.

But California law also has a mandate to lower emissions by 2020. So will the need to offset San Onofre make it harder to meet that goal?

Roberts said the state is still on track and if confident the goal will be met.

"We're gonna get there," he said.

Roberts said greenhouse gas emissions have declined "pretty significantly" across the country, partly because new clean technologies are on the rise.

Having to rely on older energy technology will just be a temporary set back in a field that’s moving rapidly forward, he said.

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Avatar for user 'NeilBaker'

NeilBaker | June 12, 2013 at 9:17 a.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

But there is no short-term nuclear risk and the actual risk is very much longer than anyone seems willing to confront.
And the risk is far higher than anyone seems willing to even contemplate.
San Onofre closure doesn't mean the risk went away; actually the risk increased since at least some of the spent fuel rods during operation were more safely stored within a reactor vessel instead of with the other 30 MILLION! pounds of highly radioactive spent fuel precariously and vulnerably stored onsite in spent fuel pools or dry casks.
We're only a major earthquake away from a Fukishima-like event that has caused the forced evacuation of 150 square miles around the disaster site. Shutdown of the San Onofre plant doesn't mitigate the risk at all.
Dreadfully, the debatably more likely scenario of our creaky civilization's possibly imminent collapse with the probable nihilistic looting of spent fuel from San Onofre and other nuclear plants during the certain chaos renders any discussion of clean air laughably irrelevant.

Regardless of what method of electricity generation is used to replace that formerly produced at San Onofre, it's still artificially and criminally priced very low to allow this and past generations to irresponsibly dump the long-term astronomical costs of storing spent fuel for a million years. For decades, taxpayers have overfunded 17 bloated elitist National Laboratories whose primary mission was to correctly determine the long-term solution to storing highly radioactive waste and they have failed magnificently with zero apparent accountability having preserved their gradiose mediocrity with fat paychecks by propagandizing new questionable missions related to homeland security.

Americans are operating within a carefully created media reality that temporarily liberates them from the pain of confronting truth while simultaneously enslaving them and their descendants to the eventual consequences of horrific lies.

I suggest we confront the TRUTH now rather than later.

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Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | June 12, 2013 at 2:58 p.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

The cleanest and cheapest kilowatt is the one you save. The California state energy strategy, which state law requires the CPUC and the utilities to follow, require that before a utility considers constructing any new fossil fuel powerplants, they must first do as much as they can to help their customers use energy as efficiently as possible. That could include creating new programs that provide incentives to help customers replace their existing inefficient air conditioning systems with new ultra-efficient HVAC systems, and developing new SDG&E programs to help customers install solar systems on their rooftops. Those kinds of programs must be implemented and maximized before state law allows the CPUC or SDG&E to consider new fossil fuel powerplants.

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Avatar for user 'danignosci'

danignosci | June 12, 2013 at 9:12 p.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

Don, extremely well stated. The existing housing stock in Southern California has so much room for improvement, if we just utilize the measures that you suggest. My company has observed that much more important than equipment replacement is decreasing HVAC duct leakage and increasing the depth of insulation in attics. By completing these measures homes remain more comfortable, require less electricity and the lifespan of the HVAC equipment (new or old) is extended.

My company, Comfort Advisors Energy Upgrades (, would be privileged to help homeowners contribute to increased energy efficiency in San Diego and Orange Counties. Feel free to contact us for a free visual inspection.

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