No Nukes: DeVore Can’t Get Enough Signatures

Told ya so. There is a power crisis looming but California voters have sent a clear signal that nuclear energy just isn’t the answer.  And Rep. Chuck DeVore’s efforts to life restrictions on building new nukes in the Golden State has suffered a setback. Not enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Calif. lawmaker cancels nuclear power ballot move

Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:37pm EST
By Bernie Woodall LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore on Tuesday vowed to continue his efforts to repeal a state law banning new nuclear power plants, one day after he canceled an effort to gather signatures to put the question to state voters in mid-2008.

DeVore said he will introduce a bill in January allowing nuclear power, which will be modified from a bill killed by legislative committee this year. If that measure fails again in 2008, he will resurrect the ballot initiative attempt.

DeVore, a Republican from Irvine County, claims opponents of nuclear power are ignoring the fact that it does not emit greenhouse gases that cause global warming and that the state won’t meet its ambitious renewable power generation goals and greenhouse gas emission reductions without it.

While DeVore says the technology is safe and is slowly growing in popularity in California, his opponents, including Dan Hirsch, president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, disagree.

“Nuclear power is the most dangerous technology on earth, with risks of meltdowns, terrorist attack, proliferation, and leaking long-lived wastes.” said Hirsch. “This humiliating reversal for a proposed initiative to revive it in California is a great victory for common sense. Now the state can focus on safe and sensible renewable solutions to global warming.”

DeVore said the ballot initiative did not get enough support this year but will get more as time goes by. The pulled initiative would have set a vote in June 2008 to reverse a 1976 California law that banned construction of new nuclear power plants until “there exists a demonstrated technology for the permanent disposal of spent fuel,” according to the California Energy Commission.

A proposed Yucca Mountain national repository in Nevada for nuclear waste is becoming less likely as opposition grows, much of it in Nevada where politicians have lined up against it. Nuclear power builders say technology is being developed to allow safe storage of nuclear waste on plant sites, but that concept is hotly contested by opponents and it is unknown if the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will allow it.

California has four existing nuclear reactors at two plants that received state approval before the 1976 ban.

U.S. nuclear power builders say by the end of 2009 they will file for 32 new nuclear power reactors, most of them on existing plant sites in the U.S. Southeast and Texas.

Bill Magavern of the Sierra Club in San Francisco said, “California has much cheaper, safer and quicker solutions to our electricity needs. We should be moving forward with 21st century clean energy technologies instead of pouring more money down the nuclear rat hole.”

Wall Street investors have yet to commit to financing nuclear reactor construction. A builder of a proposed new plant in Maryland estimated costs of up to $5 billion, which it said may rise if construction costs continue to soar.

DeVore says he will eventually win his battle to allow new plants and that opposition to the plants will erode, even if it takes years.

“I have physics and economics on my side,” DeVore said.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; editing by Jim Marshall)

Physics and economics, debatable.  But what Chuck won’t have is time.  He’ll be termed out in three years unless Prop 93 passes (do you suport Prop 93 or not Chuck?).

The folks at the GRACE Energy Initiative have this rebuttal to DeVore’s argument.

In fact, building more nukes doesn’t help prevent global warming. Even if you’re willing to accept the risks – the waste, spills, quakes, meltdowns, proliferation, terrorist strikes, etc. – the plants aren’t worth the money. Building nuclear power plants to save us from global warming is like building a pier to save a drowning man. While the pier contractor was arguing their case, you’d be thinking that there must be a better, faster, cheaper way.

The next 10 years are the most critical time for pulling back from the brink of global warming’s worst impacts. That’s 10 years if we’re lucky – 10 years, starting now. The average time to get a nuclear power plant designed, permitted, built, and operational is – 10 years. That’s a deal-breaker.

The GRACE Energy Initiative has prepared a report called “False Promises: Debunking Nuclear Industry Propaganda” which effectively summarizes additional reasons for avoiding the nuclear route.

  • Global-warming emissions resulting from electrical generation could be cut quickly by 47% through improvements in the efficiency of power generation. A dollar invested in efficiency displaces almost seven times as much carbon as one invested in nuclear power. 
  • Nuclear power is not a “zero emissions” energy source. The mining, milling, processing, and transport of uranium is fossil-fuel-intensive. More plants would mean more uranium mined, leading to use of lower-grade ore and an even higher level of greenhouse-gas emissions, equivalent to that of natural-gas-fired power plants. The entire output of two coal-fired power plants is required to power the uranium-enrichment facility in Paducah, Kentucky. 
  • Nuclear advocates say, “Hey, renewables are great, except when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, right?” The International Energy Agency has studied this objection and answered it with a simple solution: mix energy from different sources – on-site solar photovoltaics, plus wind farms, geothermal, etc. Different types of power integrated from different locations overcome any concerns about intermittency. 
  • The pro-nukers point proudly to France with its oodles of reactors, and its over-70% dependency on nuclear power. Much less mentioned: the summer of 2006, when a heat wave forced power reductions and reactor shutdowns across France. You can’t operate your nuclear reactor when the cooling water is too warm, as will happen more often with global warming. 
  • About 2,000 new reactors would have to be built worldwide to make a dent in carbon emissions. Do you have a trillion dollars you’re not using? Do you know of a hundred-plus safe and permanent waste-repository sites you haven’t told the Department of Energy about? 
  • Nuclear energy received 60% of all federal energy research-and-development funding from 1948 to 1998. Renewables got 10%. Energy efficiency got 7%.

  7 comments for “No Nukes: DeVore Can’t Get Enough Signatures

  1. just asking
    November 21, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Mr. Devore my have just been effing with the people of California on his Nuke-em initiative. Glad to see he’s not giving up on his glowing dreams!

    Devore’s persistance will ensure that we will be rid of him forever. I hope he runs against Tom Harman for Senate seat. It wil be fun to see how his nuke message goes over in Irvine, Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach!


    just asking?

  2. November 21, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    “…California voters have sent a clear signal that nuclear energy just isn’t the answer.”

    That is an enormous leap of logic, Dan. I haven’t talked to Chuck about this development, but failing to get enough signatures to qualify it for the June ballot is not ipso facto proof of your claim.

    With enough money and circulators, one can qualify almost any initiative. It is rare to qualify a statewide initiative without plenty of either. Most likely, Chuck’s initiative was short-circuited by lack of funds.

    I doubt more than a fraction of Californians were aware of Chuck’s initiative, so to spin this is a rejection of nuclear energy is absurd.

  3. Dan Chmielewski
    November 21, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Actually Matt; it’s not a leap of logic. Most Californians identify themselves as Democrats, Liberals, Progressives and even Environmentalists. Chuck shoots down any argument for alternative energy. He didn’t get enough funds. He didn’t get enough signatures. If Californians truly supported the idea, he would have gotten the funds needed to get the signatures. But hey, an energy source with a millenium-class toxic waste byproduct can’t be all bad, right?

    What sucks is I can’t tell Chuck to have the plant built near him because his house is about 2 miles from mine.

  4. Chuck DeVore
    November 21, 2007 at 2:28 pm


    I moved the initiative to the inactive file. Our polling showed majority support — not the mid- to high-60s that one needs at the beginning of a controversial ballot measure (yes, DanC, majority support — barely). Based on the results of our last poll, we decided it would not be prudent to force the issue onto the ballot at this time. Especially so given the tens of millions of dollars we expected the opponents would pour into the campaign.

    As time goes on and electrical rates soar due to the shortsighted policies in Sacramento, we’ll try again. I expect that public opinion will begin to shift our way. After all, when people such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announce that she has dropped her longstanding opposition to nuclear power in the face of global warming it is only a matter of time before other Democrats reevaluate nuclear power too.

    All the best,

    Chuck DeVore
    State Assemblyman, 70th District

  5. Dan Chmielewski
    November 21, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving Chuck!

    I can assure you, should this Turkey move to the ballot, there will be vigorous opposition.

  6. Chuck DeVore
    November 21, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Dan!

    All the best,

    Chuck DeVore

  7. DP Resident
    November 21, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    A “47% improvement” – but what is the dollar cost?

    Say if we were to implement all of the energy saving suggestions, without China and India playing along, what is the point?

Comments are closed.