Nuclear Power Debate Heats Up California

California’s nickname of the Golden State couldn’t be more apropos than with its leadership on energy. PBS recently devoted an entire episode of “Nova” to the subject of “The Big Energy Gamble” about California.

“It is leading the United States, and quite frankly, even though the bulk of the United States is behind the developed world, I think California in many respects is partially leading the world,” newly-confirmed U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said in an interview for the special. “It’s wonderful to be director of a major research lab that wants to work on this energy problem in a state that is so receptive to this work.”

One thing that stood out from the “Nova” episode was the ongoing debate of nuclear power, which faces many tough obstacles in the Golden State. For example, California’s Energy Commission has been directed via Assembly Bill 1632 to evaluate the state’s current nuclear plants, even though California law still prohibits the creation of new nuclear plants “until the Energy Commission finds that the federal government has approved and there exists a demonstrated technology for the permanent disposal of spent fuel from these facilities.”

Quite the dilemma, huh?

“I want people to look at nuclear power. Nuclear power was ‘villainized’ for a reason. We had waste that we didn’t know what to do with, and other problems. But the technology in the last several decades has improved. In France, they’re now using the waste to power the plant,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in an interview for the special. “So I think we can revisit it. I’m not saying build it, because I’m not running the state by myself. I’m saying, ‘Let us all look at it again with an open mind.’ We may then say, ‘It’s not worth it. There’s new technology. Let’s just move on, beyond nuclear.’ Great. Let’s look at everything, because we always need energy. We also need to explain to people that conservation is where a lot of the action is.”

And it’s a debate that rages stronger every day. On Jan. 21, one day after the PBS special aired, the Associated Press ran a story about a group called San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace that details “the latest chapter in a long-running battle that pits the all-volunteer group of aging hippies, activists and teachers against the federal government, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., and PG&E’s Diablo Canyon  nuclear power plant.” According to the story, Diablo Canyon (pictured above), one of the state’s nuclear plants, is struggling to find a place for its “highly radioactive spent fuel.”

Therefore, the debate about nuclear power — especially the waste generated from it — consumes the Golden State and continues a worldwide energy crisis that becomes more dramatic every day.

Image Credit: “emdot” at Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Written by Rob Yunich

Rob Yunich is a Web-savvy writer with 10 years of professional communications experience. Rob is a freelance writer, editor and blogger who is a proud graduate of Syracuse University. He's also a big fan of sports and reality TV as well as an avid chef.

Learn more about Rob at, or read one of his blogs: Storming the Crease and Random Reality Thoughts.


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