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Recent opinion pieces about Diablo Canyon missed the mark on both sides 

What were you thinking, New Times, when you printed the "Keep it open" vs. "Shut it down" opinion pieces in the recent issue (July 20)? Were you just trying to get people riled up so you would have material for future issues? Well, it worked.

Both were lessons in inflammatory rhetoric and misinformation on both sides. John Texeira writes in his "Keep it open" piece that "environmentalists could not stand PG&E's successes so they shut them down through government regulations." That's absurd. You mean accumulating more than $30 billion in liability for fires started from their own poorly maintained equipment and power lines had nothing to do with it? When an entity is responsible for scores of deaths and destroying towns like Paradise, I think some accountability is merited. Oh, and by the way, PG&E emerged from bankruptcy three years ago.

John also rails against the subsidies to wind and solar as being a contributing factor to PG&E's troubles, but he and many other critics of those subsidies neglect the more than $10 billion of subsidies given to fossil fuels every year. A level playing field?

Jean'ne Blackwell doesn't get a free pass either for her "Shut it down" piece when she uses the term "zero harm" when advocating for federal tax dollars going toward investing "in a safe alternative energy resource that has zero harm output." Really, what energy source is that? Just because there's no smokestacks or waste output doesn't make it zero harm. If it involves anything using batteries, panels, concrete, steel, iron, fiberglass, polymers, copper, zinc, cobalt, nickel, or lithium, I've got news for you: There's harm involved. Cobalt and lithium mines are not garden spots. As most economists say, "There's no such thing as a free lunch."

Jean'ne also uses hyperbolic fearmongering as well, stating that "the inevitable disaster of a nuclear cluster bomb [no such thing] ignited by an earthquake ... could destroy life within a 600-square-mile radius of Diablo Canyon." Jean'ne, while radioactive fallout from a nuclear explosion, as what happened at Chernobyl in 1986, can indeed spread for miles, your apocalyptic implication of a nuclear wasteland extending from here to Medford, Oregon, and Phoenix, Arizona, does not add any credibility to your arguments. In the Belarusian sector of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, boar, elk, and roe deer populations exploded between 1987 and 1996.

We all need to realize that we're on the same side. We want affordable, clean, safe power. If we look at mortality rates per terawatt hour, the safest three sources of energy available at this point are solar, nuclear, and wind, in that order, and they account for less than 40 percent of our power needs. Thankfully "green sources" of energy are growing, but so is demand. Until they can satisfy our needs, we will need all hands on deck to get there. That means using next-generation nuclear plants, and I'm sorry to break it to many of you, fossil fuels, too. We're not going to immediately stop using fossil fuels, so until then, we need things like carbon taxes and sequestration. We need to make sure oil companies keep looking for cleaner and more efficient ways to use what we have from the existing fields until "green" sources can meet the demand. As for coal, I wish we could keep that 19th-century fuel in the ground. Δ

Dean Thomas wrote to New Times from Los Osos. Send a response for publication to [email protected].

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