A bill introduced in California's state legislature by Republican assembly member Chuck DeVore calls for the state's moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants to be lifted.
An existing law, introduced in 1976, prohibits the use of land in California for the construction of new nuclear power plants until the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission confirms the existence of "an approved and demonstrated technology or means for the disposal of high-level nuclear waste."
In 2006, California's Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, signed legislation requiring the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020.
The bill introduced by DeVore would create the California Zero Carbon Dioxide Emission Electrical Generation Act of 2007. The bill says that "unless modern, clean, efficient, and safe commercial nuclear power is added to the mix," efforts to generate "significant amounts of zero carbon dioxide emitting electrical power at a cost that California consumers and industry can afford, and with the reliability they require, will be severely at risk."
DeVore said, "If we aim to reduce carbon dioxide without bankrupting the state and still have working class people afford power, the only way to have that done is modern nuclear power." He added, "It's time that we consider allowing the construction of new nuclear power plants, especially given that the state of the art has improved so far since the last ones were built."
According to DeVore, if a new nuclear power plant were ordered immediately, it would be more than ten years before it created any radioactive waste, by which time he expects a waste disposal site to be established. However, Edward Sproat, director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM), told a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee meeting in December 2006 that the Yucca Mountain repository will "most probably" not open before September 2020. Sproat said that the 2020 date takes into account possible program delays from lawsuits that are likely to be filed.
Although the bill is not expected to receive the necessary support in the current legislative session to make it into law, DeVore says he will reintroduce the bill in subsequent years.
There are currently four nuclear power reactors in operation in California: Diablo Canyon 1 and 2 (owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Co) and San Onofre 2 and 3 (owned by Southern California Edison Co and San Diego Gas & Electric Co). The plants provide some 16% of California's energy needs.
Chuck DeVore's official website
WNA's California's Electricity information paper
WNN: Nuclear power plant proposed for Fresno, California