Sunday, February 18, 2018


Immigration policy is of prime interest to me. Recently I uncovered the mystery of my own childhood misery: my parents’ marriage was a sham. My father married my mother for her papers because it would save him from deportation to Mexico, the country of his birth. The year before they married, the U.S. government had begun deporting what would total 2 million Mexicans of all social and economic classes from areas as far apart as Texas, New Mexico, and my parent’s New York City.

Here’s a message from my college classmate now living in Fresno, the Central Valley’s agricultural heart land where crops have been left to rot in the fields because no Mexicans are left to pick them:

“One [school] district with seven schools is in a town almost entirely populated by immigrant workers and the teachers tell me that children come to school not knowing who, if anyone, will still be at home when they return. Since these are often children already traumatized by what they went through to get here, you can imagine how well they are doing in school. And this Valley is rich in gangs both Mexican and Salvadoran, ready to pick them up. 

“People in the town of Mendota, where a sizable portion of the population is Salvadoran, live in fear of the removal of their Temporary Placement Status as well as in terror of ICE, tell me that they know deportation will come to their town soon, and when it does the town's economy and the farms around it will be devastated. In Fresno, ICE has already raided two packing plants (passing on jokes about low hanging fruit) which leaves crops that have [already] been picked rotting in sheds instead of going to market. So this hatred of the unknown brown person affects everyone -- the immigrants and their families, the people providing them services and employment, and even the housewife in Peoria buying groceries who will be horrified that the price of canned tomatoes is so high.”

Crops left to rot in the field
The man hunt is on again. No further evidence is needed to conclude that a full-blown immigrant vendetta has been unleashed today in the United States of America, a country built on the backs of genocided Indians, coerced African slaves, and generation upon generation of immigrants, whose labor over generations has enriched the very capitalist oligarchs now calling for their expulsion and placing as many of them as possible under the joint stresses of continued economic exploitation, and threatened round ups.

This week, in response to a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, a Los Angeles law firm, and the National Immigrant Justice Centers, a California federal court ruled last Thursday that ICE (Immigrant and Customs Enforcement), and LASD (the Los Angeles County Sheriffs’ Department) unlawfully detained thousands of suspected immigrants on the basis of ICE unconstitutional request for immigrant detainers.  And sinking from the criminal to the deeply venal, a top ICE attorney plead guilty to stealing immigrants’ identities to go on a $190,000 shopping spree.

A panel teach-in titled NO BAN, NO WALL held this week at the University of California made this point: “The Trump presidency has increased attacks on immigrants and marginalized people, revoking temporary protected status for thousands. These actions are based on a long-standing foundation of xenophobia and criminalization. Such repression manifests not only at borders, but also in our backyards in the form of militarized policing, state surveillance and collusion between local and federal “law” enforcement . The panelists identified some of the root factors:

•Law enforcement as we know it is violent by nature, stemming historically from its beginnings as informal vigilantes organized to capture escaped slaves. As such its violence continues to be directed primarily against people of color.

•Racism undergirds foreign policy as well, exemplified by invasions, occupations, and “regime change” as they serve American economic (resource) “interests” and directed primarily against people of color. It is no accidents that Puerto Rico is still without power 6 months after the hurricane, or that Hawaii was selected as the experimental lab to see how people would react to a high alert warning, and by our failure to extend amnesty to Dreamers.

Separation Wall

*Incarceration has two faces both of which target disproportionate numbers of people of color: jail and prison. Jail houses pretrial, pre-conviction “offenders,” and as part of law enforcement is designed to punish through violence. Both public and private jails and prisons are profit-making enterprises for their owners.

•Racism (call it white supremacy, or Aryan uber alles) is capitalism’s  profit-making  tactic, designed to indoctrinate people that they are separate from one another, thus depriving them of their power of solidarity. (See a more detailed report-back below.)

•Deportation means being forcibly repatriated to a country where you may no longer have tied, cut loose in an airport without money or personal resources. It means being deparated from family and loved ones, and left to shift for yourself.

•Deportations are already impacting public education and the economy, especially in the agricultural sectors. Is the game of upholding white supremacy worth the candle?

This week as we go to press. matters remain in flux, but so far:

•The status of Dreamers remains in limbo after congress rejects four different proposals, suggesting that there may be no permanent solution anytime soon for the 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who face a March 5th deadline when they lose their right to work and become subject to deportataion.
•Wednesday’s news reported a bipartisan Senatorial group known as the “Common Sense Caucus” had reached an immigration “deal” (since voted down) granting the Trumpian border wall funding, and cuts to family reunification (nicely referred to as “chain immigration,”) a deal later denounced as a “mass deportation bill.”

All week long, various petitions have appeared urging Congress to come up with a “clean” Dreamer act allowing undocumented youth the right to work. Meantime, one such young man, Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento, was marched out of his Texas high school class by the agents of ICE.  Three hundred of his schoolmates walked out in solidarity.  Sign valid petition urging his release NOW. (note: it the link refuses to work, Google-search for the petition.)

But we are long past the petition stage. This Congress takes its cue from white supremacists. It is not about suddenly to discover it harbors a streak of humanity, not any more likely than the government of the Third Reich might have been sensitive to the signing of petitions. What is required now is an outcry that writes outraged letters to the editors of both the national and local press, that spreads to the airports and into the streets.

Here’s a run-down of this week’s articles on immigration:

None of these are “slow” articles, i.e., deep analyses of the origins and implications of what’s happening, because right now the level of hysteria, panic, and dismay is too high.

Top ICE attorney pleads guilty to stealing immigrants’ identities to go on $190,000 shopping spree. Daily Kos, February 16, 2017.

Following member’s deportation, NY State teamsters swing into action. Daily Kos, February 13, 2018.

Recently discharged hospital patient reflects on the deep caring he receives at the hands of immigrants. Daily Kos, February 14, 2018

#FreeDennis: 300 students stage walkout after Texas teed detained by ICE.

Government of Hungary passes a Draconian anti-immigration bill hitting on NGOs.


Here’s a summary of last Thursdays’ UCB NO BAN NO WALL presentation:

The four panelists, variously Mexican American, Arab American, Haitian, and Guatemalan, represented a rich diversity of origin and approach. Among their points of discussion were:
•The spontaneous outpouring of activism at airports throughout the Untied States in response to the first Muslim ban shows that popular action can be effective, and exhilarating.
•Distinction between jail and prison.  Jails as part of pre-trial, pre-conviction law enforcement, are designed to punish; 
 •At the root of immigration policy lies racism, the racism that serves the needs of profit-making Capitalism; the nature of law enforcement is violent.
•The movement to deport immigrants is global as exemplified by “Urban Shield,” held annually in  the Bay Area on 9.11, a collaboration between law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, and the County of Alameda under the direction of Sheriff Ahern. STOP URBAN SHIELD activist protest has forced it out of Oakland, but its three-day-long war games and its weapons expo now held in Pleasanton exemplifies and expands the militarization of domestic law enforcement, and unabashedly singles out people of color in actual target practice. Its best-selling T-shirt reads Black Guns Matter in direct reference to the #blacklivesmatter Movement.
•STOPURBANSHIELD activism is effective. Alameda County is the fiscal agent, and it’s on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors that pressure needs to be directed.
• To seek refuge is a human right. Following the Haitian earthquake some 80,000 Haitian asylum seekers and thousands of Salvadoran victims of that country’s civil war, stand at risk of immediate deportation because their Temporary Protection Status (TPS) is being revoked. Some 1.8 million “Dreamers” also stand at immediate risk of deportation once the March 5th extension deadline expires.
The U.S. occupation of Haiti, using the UN as a fig leaf, conducted massacres in Haiti, a matter of which the U.S. public remains in total ignorance.
•One of the most effective tools creating solidarity between people who find themselves oppressed is to learn their histories from one another. For example, a little known chapter of Haitian history concerns a regiment of Poles, part of Napoleon’s colonialist army sent to quell the Haitian Revolution who, once they had assessed how the cards were stacked, turned coat to join the Rebellion.
•An alternative approach to medicine, pioneered by Cuban schools of medicine  requires that to cure the whole person, the social determinants of health, namely the moral, psychological, political as well as the physical realities of the patient need to be taken into account.  A local clinic based on such a vision makes a practice of holding discussion circles with its patients, creating a safe space where they can share their perceptions of their illnesses, at the same time offering a formalized escape plan in the event of an ICE raid.

Common Dreams: In a letter to the American people Taliban urges peace.

Common Dreams: Public Citizen suit forces White House to release “visitor’s logs” (Menckenese for corporate lobbyist lists.)

Common Dreams: Court Rules Obama-era energy efficiency standard must prevail despite the trumpistration attempt to scrap the rules.

Joining the Ninth Circuit, the Fourth Circuit Court of appeals rules travel ban unlawfully discriminates against Muslims and violates the U.S. Constitution.

Portland bans fossil fuel expansion.  Idaho, California and Washington contemplate similar climate actions.

Common Dreams: Seattle news station partners with N.Y.-based charity to wipe out $l million in Seattle-area residents’ medical debt.

Sign up for Bay Area Rapid Response by texting RESIST to 41411

Write an outraged letter to the editor.

Join the protest outside your local ICE headquarters. In San Francisco every day from Noon to 1 Pm at 630 Sansome Street.

Join the SEIU picket at 630 Sansome in S.F. every Friday from 2 to 3 PM.

Next week we begin publication of a 4-part in-depth series on immigrant detention.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Plastic Seas II

What can be done with the planet’s waste? And how can the planet’s inhabitants change their attitudes to take into account that in a closed system like our planet, there is really no way  to “throw something away.”

A single shower using a soap containing microbeads can release 10,000 of them into the environment. When they are consumed by marine life they leash toxins into fish, a good reason, along with overfishing, to reduce seafood and fish consumption.

Every minute, the equivalent of a garbage truck worth of plastic makes it into the world’s oceans. Coral reefs and the marine life that depends on them are imperiled by the 11 billion plastic items found in surveys of the Asia-Pacific coral reef region—a figure that is projected to increase to 15 billion by 2025. Such items as plastic bags, rice sacks, and bottles cause coral reefs to become diseased and this fact adversely impacts the 275 million people who depend on coral reefs for nourishment, income from tourism, coastal protection, and cultural importance.

Picture a world without garbage trucks, without garbage cans. Such a world existed not too long ago. A century ago Japan recycled everything it used. Such a world needs to be recreated now.

Recently eco@africa featured some imaginative recycling ideas.

Rubber tires: Long Mexico’s way to recycle rubber tires, the manufacture of huaraches converts them to indestructible footwear, suitable for the climate and the terrain. In Niger’s capital where there is no trash collection, tires are being converted into seat cushions, creating jobs for the people making them. 

Paper: Kenyans have been producing non-toxic pencils from recycled newspaper, supplying schools, government agencies and corporate firms.

Swiss architect Fredy Iseli spent nearly 30 years developing a way to construct houses from recycled paper.

And Creapaper, a German company has found a way of packaging foodstuffs in non-toxic paper made of grass.

Dung: For decades the water closet with its flush toilet was considered the summit of civilization, a bad choice for the environment and profligate of human waste, which—before Monsanto—was used for much more planet-friendly fertilizer. In Uganda women have been earning their livelihood making paper out of elephant dung.

The use of cow dung as fuel has preserved India from the de-forestation brought about by burning firewood. As I travelled along some 3000 miles of Indian roads through India’s villages, everywhere I found native art forms: mounds of cow manure patties used for heating and fuel left to dry in the sun displayed a rich variety of designs every bit as artistic as traditional chalked threshold decorations called rangoli, both arts largely practiced by women.

Community forum:
Stop the attacks on immigrants!

Sunday February 11, 2:00 – 4:00 PM
Women's Building
3543 18th Street
San Francisco

Washington Governor Jay Inslee denies Tesoro-Savage its site certificate to build the biggest oil train terminal in North America. 

Republicans botch abortion ban.

San Francisco and New York show the way forward by throwing out old marijuana convictions.

Exelon to retire Oyster Creek, the nuke that nearly drowned in hurricane Sandy, in 2018.

Iceland first country to legalize equal pay.

Ecuadoran, Nelly Cumbicos, mother of US born children, saved from the deportation clutches of ICE.

Tesla and Australia to turn 50,000 homes into virtual solar power plant.

Florida bans fracking statewide.

North and South Koreans march together at Olympics opening seremony.

Shareholders in Marathon Petroleum Corp. demand explanation of their potential violations of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Petroleum and its By-product: Plastic Seas

Late last year the petroleum giants, including Exxon and Shell announced an allocation of $180 billion for modernizing plastic production and distribution, insuring an almost permanent pollution of our oceans. 

Although Theresa May’s UK devoted a great deal of talk to reducing plastic pollution, a motion last year to enact deposit return on plastic bottles failed to pass Parliament. But following China’s decision to ban imports of foreign recyclable material, pushing against these set-backs, Brussels announced an allocation of 340 million euros to change poor tax habits, furthering a plan that aims to make all packaging reusable or recyclable by 2030 in an effort to change the European mindset.

A recent article by Reader Supported News calls for an American plastics intervention, but in the absence of globally-coordinated efforts, looking to failed government structures—call them nations, especially now—seems unrealistic.

The use of plastics contributes to endocrine disruption. That alone is a good reason to stay away from all plastic products, including appliances, as much as possible.   Fossil fuels are killing not only humans but all life on this planet of ours, including what it does to the soils and the water.

Remember, too, that all plastics are petroleum products. They are not biodegradable. They do not decompose.  At best they break down into minute particles which find their ways into the digestive systems of land and sea birds, fish, and mammals, including human mammals..

Anything you put into the earth’s ecosystem that does not decompose, that is, anything inorganic, pollutes our planet for all eternity.

Our fisheries are failing, our continental shelves are slowing suffocating in increasingly long swaths of dead coastlines, the effect mainly of pesticide run-off, the result of increased corn subsidies for a crop that requires massive injections of nitrogen, and the reality of a Pacific garbage patch the size of Texas is no myth as a sailor friend reported to me, even finding a television set—relic of our dying culture—when he became becalmed there. I wrote a poem about it:


Stuck by the swell
of becalmed seas,
Leno wisecracks
at an empty sky,
Carson gawks
as horsetails track the trades,
a school of canned guffaws
swims just below the shallows.
Cathode ray reliquary
marks culture gone to brine:
Farnsworth’s tube, its cord
trapeze to barnacles.

Garbage accumulation in the seas is driven by the movement of six subtropical ocean gyres (SOGs), rotating clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere, the result of the Coriolis Effect.

Both profit driven and non-profit enterprises are stepping in where more concerted efforts have failed. Municipal governments can pass ordinances banning the use of plastic bags. Recently the Icelandic chain of UK supermarkets announced their packaging would become plastics-free. Greenpeace is circulating a petition demanding that Coca Cola cease its production of millions of plastic bottles a year in favor of establishing stations where the public can draw the product in reusable containers.

How can we live responsibly, given that our lives are embedded in a petroleum-driven economic culture? How can we reduce and eventually eliminate the use of plastics in our homes, and our purchasing lives, and in our planet-spendthrift Christmas giving? Individual efforts make a difference. One of them, spearheaded by Costa Rican artist Carolina Sevilla recovers ocean plastic and makes fashions out of it, is an example of such an individual initiative. But each one of us need to think how best to help compensate for the absence of globally coordinated initiatives.


Most critical of all, R & D allocations need to support the world’s chemists to develop biodegradable replacement products, to end the age of petroleum and its byproducts altogether.

For further reading: 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

2018 – Year of the Uterus

Originally this newsletter edition was to have addressed the matter of plastics: their role in contributing to planetary pollution, and their relationship as petroleum-derived products to the fossil fuel industry. Having reached a dangerous futility threshold, I wrote these words in my journal:

The subject this morning is Disaffection: Why does the prospect of writing           about climate collapse and dying seas, advocating for smaller human      footprints leave me feeling exhausted? Is there a choice here? And my answer: Yes! Grab the mornings! Get out there! Do stuff. Collapse if you must, but in the afternoon.

So I went to the Oakland Women’s March, not really convinced that I would, not at 9 AM (I don’t like crowds), not at 10 AM (There won’t be any buses running. That walk to Lake Merritt could be over a mile. And how will I get back?) with a promise to myself: “Go only if you enjoy every minute.” Evidently I must have decided to go. By 10:30 I had printed out 50 two-sided flyers.

sign by Bev Voloshin
Muni sees to it buses run infrequently—especially when a demonstration is called.  I missed the bus heading north. That left the south-going option, which let me off downtown with over a mile to walk, joining up with increasing numbers of folks heading in the same direction, one of them carrying a DEPORT ICE sign. We zigzagged a couple of blocks and as we rounded the 12th Street corner, I  gasped:  You couldn’t see the sidewalks, you couldn’t see the lakeside greensward for the solid mass of people. And rounding another corner, I could see the crowd was so vast, it had spilled over into lakeside park two blocks away. I hadn’t seen such crowds since the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The best way to enjoy the density of such a crowd is to plow right in and, as the march heads out, move in the opposite direction. You get to distribute your 50 flyers with people falling all over themselves to get a copy. You get to high five the best signs, groove with the hottest bands, and boogey with the coolest dancers. It’s a beautiful, stunningly sunny winter day, clear skies, and full of thousands of very well disposed and joyful people who despite their anger and frustration show no hate and astonishingly little negativity.

This is the Day of the Uterus: in a sea of pink, thousands of folks, including bearded men, sport pussy hats. Helpful people point out that you are headed in the wrong direction. So you tell them that like a sperm, you like travelling upstream. From your vantage point you happen upon all your friends, and because the march is advancing at a turtle’s pace, you get to hug them, and admire the political astuteness of their home-made signs:


Have you ever seen a Fallopian Tube flip someone the bird? Picture a flowery garland-surrounded uterus, one Fallopian Tube raised giving hate the finger.
Oakland finest lounged about uselessly, proudly displaying one example of their battle-grade weaponry, but otherwise incapable of providing information about any available transportation—a serious concern for this footsore octogenarian—but they give me their estimate of the crowd. My 100,000 contests their 70,000. It took a full hour and a half for it to funnel itself into a narrowing six-lane thoroughfare on its way downtown to Oscar Grant Plaza, its final destination.

Next week: plastics. Or What a Government Shutdown Means to You. Or…

Check out Women’s March Youth Empower.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

California Goes Nuclear Free!

Once one of its earliest and largest promoters, California has decided to get out of the nuclear power business. On January 11th, 2018, The California Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to shut down Pacific Gas & Electric Company's (PG&E) Diablo Canyon reactors at the end of its current license permits or sooner, if appropriate information comes forward to do so.

With the passing of the nuclear tea pot industry, there isn't a better example of the hopeful saying “as goes California, so goes the nation!” From Fremont to Reagan, its Hollywood promotional claim that the rest of the country will eventually follow in California's lead is on display. After 60 years of opposition to nuclear development, California has put a stopper on the nuclear genie.  The state has become a world leader in renewable energy, already producing 39% of its electricity from it - over twice as much energy as nuclear ever produced. Legislative attempts to go 100% renewable failed this past fall, but there can be no doubt that that campaign will only grow stronger, with over 100,000 solar jobs in the state, far more than nuclear's few thousand ever produced.

Claiming that nuclear energy would become too cheap to meter, General Electric and PG&E became one of the country's earliest nuclear power promoters, constructing the Vallecitos nuclear facility southeast of Oakland. Plans for more installations across the state were soon to follow.
In 1958, following PG&E's announcement of plans to build a large nuclear complex at Bodega Bay just 1,000 meters from the epicenter of the 1906 earthquake that decimated San Francisco, Northern Californians launched what would eventually become a global movement against nuclear power.  A few years later, with its plans to build the world's largest nuke at Malibu, Southern California Edison would kick off Hollywood's opposition, leading to movie stars like Bob Hope coming out in opposition. Both projects were eventually stopped after years of opposition.

With California's penchant for gigantic systems (including the world’s largest water projects, its freeways, agribusiness, urban sprawl, banks and military contractors) leave it to PG&E, the largest privately owned electric utility company in the United States at the time to claim that it would build over 60 units in its service territory alone - part of Nixon's call for 1,000 reactors nationwide by the year 2000.    

The construction of Diablo Canyon would become the most controversial nuclear facility of its time, taking over 20 years to complete and coming in ten times over budget, able to open only with the legal legerdemain of Nixon's Saturday night massacre Judge Robert Bork’s his lame decision the day before the Chernobyl meltdown. 

With all of its drawn-out drama, PG&E's strategy to bribe the Sierra Club into supporting  Diablo Canyon led to the formation of Friends of the Earth, which split off from the Sierra Club.  Later, with his book Soft Energy PathsAmory Lovins would join Friends of the Earth (FOE) and play a prominent role in launching the global renewable energy campaign. 

In the mid 1970's, as part of Californians for Nuclear Safeguards', June 1976 statewide Proposition 15 ballot measure calling for the end of nuclear power in the state, three General Electric nuclear engineers would quit.  The ballot measure failed but the large statewide campaign with thousands of volunteers so terrified the industry that it agreed to new regulations banning any further development until a solution to spent fuel could be found.   It would be this initiative that would signal the death knell for nuclear in California.  PG&E would take the rule it helped produce to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1983 only to be rebuffed.  Industry supporters considered another attack on the law in 2006, an attack that eventually collapsed.  

A year after the vote, the Abalone Alliance (AA) was formed with the objective of using direct action to stop Diablo Canyon, while the Mothers for Peace took on the legal campaign to close it.  Based on Whyl Germany's 1975 direct action model, the Abalone Alliance was formed in 1977 and quickly spread across the state, eventually including dozens of local groups, large and small.  With the addition of Alliance for Survival, based in San Diego and Los Angeles, estimates placed total membership at nearly 100,000.  The group adopted a radical new model developed by the Quakers of consensus as its decision making process.

Following two years of blockades at the gates of Diablo Canyon, where hundreds of activists trained in Non-violent tactics were arrested, the group's San Francisco chapter, People Against Nuclear Power was actively planning a rally at the Civic Center when unit 1 of the Three Mile Island nuclear facility in Pennsylvania melted down on March 28th,  1979.  The Alliance's timing resulted in over 25,000 attendees at the April 7th event, followed by another rally with 50,000 attendees in San Luis Obispo two months later, when Governor Jerry Brown came out against Diablo.  

After a strategic decision to schedule its next blockade when PG&E planned to open the facility, the alliance, joined by Greenpeace, mounted the nation's largest direct action campaign starting on September 11, 1981.  Nearly 2,000 arrests were made during the ten- day-long blockade at Diablo.  On the last day of the blockade, a newly hired 25-year-old engineer happened to notice that the facilities’ seismic supports had been installed in a mirror-image reversal, following a similar situation at San Onofre, forcing PG&E to be rebuild Diablo for a 3rd time.  (The second rebuild followed the 1972 discovery of the Hosgri Fault, a warning sign that many believed had been covered up by the utility following its failure to build the Bodega Bay facility north of San Francisco in 1958.) This would not end PG&E's seismic nightmare; eventually many new faults even closer to the facility would be discovered. 

1981 Blockade

In the meantime, Santa Cruz activists successfully stopped PG&E's plans to build another large facility less than 20 miles from what would have been the epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake ($6 billion in damages) that shattered Santa Cruz and parts of San Francisco.  

PG&E was eventually forced to shell out an additional $5.8 billion dollars for construction costs (and even more in financing) with much of the cost coming, thanks to President Reagan, from a secret EPA loan. Then Judge Bork saved Diablo Canyon who refused to look at the NRC’s leaked transcripts in a decision rendered a day before the catastrophe at Chernobyl happened.

Brown's administration promised to limit ratepayers costs to $2.2 billion, but with Republicans taking control of the state in 1984, a new experiment in rate making allowed PG&E to rake in cash. That ruling led to the 1994 electric rebellion, followed in 2001 by Governor (Pistol) Pete's deregulation fiasco that included a $28 billion give away, with PG&E's portion disappearing when the company went bankrupt.

The TMI disaster that preceded Chernobyl led to a nationwide movement that, given its goal of stopping the use of nuclear power and replacing it with renewable energy sources, has been intentionally ignored by most of the mainstream media. In a matter of years, political opposition combined with nuclear energy's failed economic promises, put a stop to the industry's expansive agenda.

The failure of the U.S. nuclear power program ranks as the largest managerial disaster in business history.  The utility industry has already invested $125 billion, with an additional $140 billion to come before the decade is out – and only the blind, or the biased, can now think that that money has been well spent.

Forbes Magazine, February 1986

From the start, in 1974, when as a result of its plumbing system’s first test, over 10,000 abalone were killed, the facilities environmental hazards became evident. In 1998 the company was caught lying about the massive offshore impacts of dumping 2.2 billion gallons of hot toxic water into the Pacific Ocean daily, but the resulting fine, which would have been the largest ever, magically disappeared through the efforts of the outgoing Clinton administration.  Similar impacts were also found at San Onofre. Eventually the state ordered all coastal thermal facilities to replace their Once-Through Cooling systems that, for Diablo, would have cost the company upwards of $7 billion to install. 

Following George W. Bush's nuclear 2.0 campaign in 2005 with the goal of reboosting nuclear power, the industry started pushing to extend nuclear licenses for old reactors like Diablo and building new ones.  But once again, the industry's claims turned out to be false and within years the new push faltered.  Both Diablo and San Onofre applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for license extensions but when Fukushima happened, both companies were forcedd to delay those plans. San Onofre, which was just completing the replacement of its steam generators, suffered leaks in one of the new units, ultimately leading to closure of the two units in June 2013.

As a result of the seismic hazards revealed by the Fukushima disaster, PGE hoped with a battery of sonic seismic testing, to verify that Diablo Canyon was safe after all. But dramatic opposition to the hazards of sonic testing put an end to that. The final trip wire for PGE came when they realized that their lease of state lands required new hearings.

Just days before the state hearing on June 21st, 2016 the company announced that it had reached an agreement with a number of groups including Friends of the Earth to close the facility in 2024.   After nearly two years of controversial hearings, the California Public Utilities Commission signed off on Diablo's closure.

During the 2016 hearings, PG&E acknowledged that over half of Diablo's power was no longer needed, nor was it critical to maintain it for any base-load purposes.  A handful of pro-nuclear activists attempted to make any number of claims, even attempting to do blockades of groups that were supporting its closure.  But the decision to allow the facilities to continue until 2024 was most definitely not agreed to by groups like Mothers for Peace, Women's Energy Matters and The World Business Academy of Santa Barbara, demanding that it close sooner.  Put on the record during the hearings, those contentions and their documentation were acknowledged and could still come into play.  But, there will never be another nuclear facility allowed again in California.  

This piece is dedicated to those activists who gave their hearts and energy to one of the longest, most difficult struggles imaginable. 

Please note that a number of links giving much more background on Diablo are to Mark Evanoff's unpublished 1983 manuscript on the state's anti-nuclear history.


Roger Herried - Abalone Alliance archivist

This week’s generous bouquet of roses amidst the thorns

Courts in California and Pennsylvania temporarily block rollback of reproductive rights.

More than 100 U.S. House and Senate candidates pledge to move off fossil fuels use.