David Sneed reports for the Tribune:
SANTA MONICA — No high energy seismic surveys will be
conducted off the coast of San Luis Obispo County this year, if ever.
In a resounding success for tens of thousands of activists from across the state, the California Coastal Commission
on Wednesday unanimously voted to deny Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s
request to use extremely loud blasts of sound to study a network of
earthquake faults surrounding Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
200 environmentalists, fishermen, animal rights activists and Native
Americans from across the state packed a wing of the Santa Monica Civic
Auditorium on Wednesday. All of them were opposed to the seismic
testing, and many wore T-shirts emblazoned with statements such as “Stop
Ocean Blasting” and “Seismic Matters.”
It is now up to PG&E
to decide how to proceed. PG&E spokesman Blair Jones said the
utility will study the commission’s decision and the reasons behind the
denial to decide what to do next. PG&E asked the commission to make
an up-or-down decision and not spend the matter back for more study.
commissioners repeatedly said PG&E failed to show sufficient
evidence that the benefit of the studies would outweigh the harm they
would do to the environment. The utility is spending $64 million on
various types of onshore and offshore seismic studies.
commissioners said the studies will not do anything to make the plant
safer or provide an ability to predict earthquakes. They also said it is
unlikely that PG&E could ever be successful in getting a permit,
and encouraged PG&E to use the information already available to
evaluate the seismic safety of the plant.
“Approving the studies
would open the door to this type of activity all along the West Coast,”
said Commissioner Steven Kinsey. “It’s not a difficult decision to make
today that we do not want to be opening the coast to this kind of
Commissioner Martha McClure said Diablo Canyon cannot
be fixed in terms of the danger it faces from earthquakes and should not
be studied to death. She said she wants the plant to be shut down.
studies were an attempt to push the can down the road,” she said. “I
don’t buy the public safety issue at all. I want to see PG&E turn
the corner and spend the $64 million on solar power.”