California considering bill to lift nuclear power plant ban

A legislator from Southern California has introduced a bill to lift the state’s ban on new nuclear power plants. The bill would give a boost to plans by investors to bring nuclear power to the heart of the San Joaquin Valley.

Update: Contact your california state assembly representative to indicate your support for this bill

Those who support the bill:
Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine. (introduced the bill)
“I think we need to at least advance the discussion,” he said. “And if we’re not ready to do it this year, I’m prepared to bring this bill back again and again.”

“The entire Southern California area is really in a precarious position in terms of energy consumption and energy needs,” said . “And it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.”

John Hutson, the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group’s chief executive
Terry Caldwell, mayor of Victorville (population 100,000) in San Bernardino County

The Fresno Nuclear Energy Group LLC, which formed last year, signed a letter of intent with UniStar Nuclear Development LLC, a subsidiary of Constellation Energy in Baltimore, to design, build and operate a plant. Their preliminary plan calls for a single reactor generating 1,600 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 1.2 million homes. The Fresno firm is hoping to build the nuclear power plant next to a large sewage treatment plant and use its wastewater to cool the reactor.

Those who are against the bill:
The chairs of both the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and the Utilities and Commerce Committee argue that there are plenty of other environment-friendly methods of generating electricity, such as geothermal, wind and solar power.

Less against:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, has softened her previously hard-line stance against nuclear power.

Polling trends indicates shift to support for nuclear power:
July, 2006 poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, 39 percent of Californians surveyed said they supported the building of additional nuclear power plants, while 52 percent opposed the idea.
In 2005, the results were 33 percent in support and 59 percent opposed.

Opinions have shifted even more dramatically among likely voters. Last summer, that group was split down the middle at 46 percent on each side of the issue. In 2005, the result was 37 percent in support and 55 percent opposed.

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