California Nuclear Initiative

Initiative signature drive falls short, but movement towards shutdown grows

Though we maintained optimism until the end that we may qualify our initiative for the November ballot, and while our hopes were bolstered by a recent influx of signatures due to publicity surrounding the anniversary of Fukushima as well as the recent closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, on April 16th we reached the end of our circulation period and have fallen considerably short of the over 800,000 signatures we had originally hoped for.

Since the beginning we recognized that this would be an uphill battle. We were also aware that the false and misleading claims made by California’s Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) —claims that were required by law to be printed on the Initiative—of tens of billions of dollars per year in added costs to the state as a result of rolling blackouts due to the closure of these plants would make it very difficult to garner the grassroots support necessary to effectively move forward with a signature drive of this magnitude. Literally every major anti-nuclear organization in California and the U.S. opted out of supporting us as a result of the LAO analysis.

Fortuitously, the recent closure of San Onofre has proven the rolling blackout myth false, along with the outlandish claims of astronomical financial impacts to the state, effectively validating what we have said since the very beginning. Though these revelations occurred too late to undo the damage caused by the LAO analysis, they have breathed new life and new opportunity into our efforts to shutter these plants.

There is still a chance, through court action, that this issue could be placed on the November ballot. There are also many organizations that initially turned away from us that are now reevaluating the possibility of directing their resources towards the closure of California’s nuclear plants in the near future. Our campaign has helped educate the public and provide the foundation necessary to proceed with these efforts.

Thank you to all of our volunteers for their time and effort in gathering signatures. Your efforts have helped propel this crucial issue forward and will not have been made in vain.

Subscribe to this website and we will keep you updated on future actions.

Ben Davis Jr., Initiative Proponent
Donna Gilmore, Initiative Coordinator


Nuclear Initiative to Shutdown California Nuclear Plants

1520. (11-0042) Nuclear Power. Initiative Statute. Summary Date: 11/18/11
Circulation Deadline: 04/16/12 | Signatures Required: 504,760
[Deadline to mail petitions to the campaign: 04/07/12]
Proponent: Ben Davis Jr. (916) 833-7894

Extends statutory preconditions, currently applicable to new operation of any nuclear powerplant, to existing Diablo Canyon and San Onofre operations. Before further electricity production at these plants, requires California Energy Commission to find federal government has approved technology for permanent disposal of high-level nuclear waste. For nuclear powerplants requiring reprocessing of fuel rods, requires Commission to find federal government has approved technology for nuclear fuel rod reprocessing plants. Both findings are subject to Legislature’s rejection. Further requires Commission to find on case-by-case basis facilities will be available with adequate capacity to reprocess or store powerplant’s fuel rods.  (11-0042 Full Text)

Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government:

Likely major impacts on state and local finances in the near term in the form of decreased revenues and increased costs, potentially in the billions of dollars annually, due to near-term disruptions in the state’s electricity system and ongoing electricity price increases. The magnitude of these impacts would depend on the frequency and duration of rolling blackouts. Potential major state costs to compensate utilities for investment losses resulting from the mandated shutdown of their nuclear power plants. Potential avoidance of significant future state and local government costs and lost revenues in the rare event of a major nuclear plant incident.

Rebuttal to Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance:

The Legislative Analyst’s Office would have us believe that nuclear power plants are too big to fail.  Here at California Nuclear Initiative, we think not.

The fiscal analysis noted in this article is a nuclear industry dream come true. It is also false. The analysis suggests that, if the nuclear power plants are closed by an initiative it will cause rolling blackouts. However, the same analysis suggests that if the power plants are closed because of a nuclear accident, it will not cause rolling blackouts. The nuclear industry itself would never think it could get away with such nonsense. To have the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office sign such a statement… the analysis should have been gift wrapped and place under the nuclear industry’s Christmas tree.

The LAO has no documentation from any state agency that blackouts will occur, but based this solely on a conversation with someone from the Independent System Operators — someone who refuses to state this on the record and refuses to be named. Luckily, the average voter in California is educated enough to see through such a smoke screen. It simply and graphically demonstrates that the energy industry and our state and federal governments are too closely allied.

When we closed the Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant, they said there would be rolling blackouts. They said there would be rolling blackouts for years to come in Japan. There were supposed to be rolling blackouts in California during the energy crises in 2000. These blackouts didn’t occur and there is documented evidence they won’t occur when we close California’s nuclear power plants. The facts of the matter show that the fiscal analysis’ claims we will have blackouts if the initiative passes, but not if we have a nuclear accident, is exactly and obviously the opposite of the truth.

The state has an entire year to prepare for this initiative. A nuclear accident doesn’t announce itself so one can prepare a year ahead.

Ben Davis Jr., California Nuclear Initiative Proponent

Interviews Explaining the Initiative and Why it’s Needed

Interview with Ben Davis Jr by Hal Ginsberg, KRXA Morning Show 11/28/2011 
Interview with Ben Davis Jr by Libbe HaLevy of Nuclear Hotseat Podcast 11/22/2011 

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