The most important issue in our County now and for the next few years?
No doubt about it.
It’s what happens when the plant closes, and how it happens, and the decisions we make about the lands.
The decision to close the plant was not ours, but how we are responding to its planned closure, to its impacts, and to the opportunities that can be created, are crucial to our future.
As if losing our major employer and local revenue generator wasn’t challenging enough, behind remain terrible tonnages of nuclear waste in an area of some of the most beautiful coastal land in the world.
Adding to the complications is the bankruptcy of PG&E, and with it the company’s liabilities in several wildfire disasters; bids by hedge funds to take over the company; the possibility that the decommissioning of the plant can be sold to another entity; the uncertainty of how the state will respond to any possible transfer as well as how the state will respond to the reorganization of the company and the future of utility regulations and the generation of clean energy.
This is no small matter.
The steadfast devotion of our citizens to a coast unspoiled by over-development and industrial use, and the promise that 12,000 acres of Diablo lands offers to our future, are the guiding lights for me. And it’s why I led our Board to boldly declare in filings, our key positions. These include:
- Affirming our role as the lead land use authority.
- Supporting PG&E’s request for the full amount to completely clean and restore the site.
- Supporting the most immediate and safe decommissioning process that utilizes our local workforce.
- Asserting the community’s desire to see the lands conserved as a public resource and insisting that it be part of comprehensive mitigation package.
- Confirming the County’s continued interest in existing electrical transmission and desalination infrastructure.
- Urging that emergency response plans continue with no reduction in funding until all spent fuel is safely stored.
- Stating the County’s openness to future opportunities in clean energy production, water resilience, technology innovation, and other economic development initiatives, while at the same time protecting the County taxpayers from any financial maintenance costs and/or assuming risks and liabilities.
We can’t afford to get this wrong or miss any opportunity.
We can’t afford politically rigid thinking or a lack of deep policy competence.
And we can’t afford taking vague or weak or naïve positions—we have to lead, protect, demand, and create. No one else is going to do it for us.
Every day I am thoroughly engaged on these complicated and volatile set of issues, in consultation with our Assemblyman, our Congressman, other decision makers in the state and federal government, and business and community leaders here and elsewhere.
Every day I am doing what I can to ensure that our County is in the strongest possible position for the many negotiations and decisions ahead.
This is about our County’s future, both its short and long term future.
This is about upholding our values and strengthening our capacities for change.
This is tough stuff, this is hard-going, this is not a time for novices.
Third District Supervisor, San Luis Obispo County