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Fish and Game Commissioners blast PG&E plan

One thing was very clear from the Fish and Game Commission meeting held in Sacramento on Monday, September 24 - the vast majority of people, including Commission members, environmentalists, Indian Tribal representatives, recreational anglers and commercial fishermen, strongly oppose the PG&E's plan to conduct high energy seismic testing off the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.

In fact, not one of the approximately 50 speakers, who lined up in the Resources Building to comment about the plan after the PG&E, NOAA, Department of Fish and Game and State Lands Commission representatives made their presentations, supported the plan, arguing that the high energy tests will harass, harm and kill whales, dolphins, salmon, rockfish and other marine life.

A large contingent of members of Greenpeace, along with Morro Bay area commercial fishermen, representatives of the Chumash Indian Tribe, Surfrider members, Zeke Grader, the executive director of the Pacific Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and many others, spoke out against the plan.

Commission President Jim Kellogg and Commissioner Michael Sutton, who have often disagreed on the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative and other issues, both completely agreed on the need to protect marine life from seismic testing in the Point Buchon State Marine Reserve and elsewhere on the Central Coast.

Kellogg stated, "I have been involved since the beginning of the MLPA process and I fought hard to get the best deal for the anglers... Now I will be the strongest advocate to keep protections in place. I've asked PG&E if it would would do a world wide search to for other technology to conduct these safety tests."

Jim Kellogg: “Not A Marine Life Killing Area”

"It's a Marine Life Protection Area, not a Marine Life Killing Area and as long as I'm here we're not gonna recommend to the Department anything that's killing anything that we're trying to protect," emphasized Kellogg.

"I've seen nothing to convince me that the program is advisable or necessary," said Sutton, referring to the letter from NRDC and other NGOs arguing that the test was not necessary – and that more safe alternatives could be found. "I can't make a recommendation to the Department to issue a permit."

In the reversal of a previous position, Karen Garrison, a senior policy analyst with NRDC’s oceans program and co-director of its ocean program, told California Coastal Commission staff in a September 17 memo, “In summary, we have concluded that the survey will provide only marginal additional informational information that will not affect the safety of the Diablo plant. (

“We recommend that the Coastal Commission deny the permit," said Garrison. "If the project goes forward, all possible steps should be taken to minimize to harm to the marine environment, and to mitigate impacts that are unavoidable.”

Commissioner Richard Rogers revealed that fishermen have reported being impacted by the low level testing that is currently being conducted off Diablo Canyon. "I have already heard from commercial fishermen that that the low level testing has cost them 50 percent of their catch. This Commission is watching," he said.

The overwhelming opposition to the plan was evidenced by Commission Executive Director Sonke Mastrup, who said he was deluged with faxes opposing the testing until the machine broke and received 40,000 emails before the website shut down.

"In the end, the Commissioners filled the shoes of giants, directing their staff to attend the upcoming California Coastal Commission meeting on October 10th in Oceanside, and making sure everyone in the state knew they would not be tolerating any destructive activity in our Marine Protected Areas off the coast, such as the Point Buchon State Marine Reserve," said Joey Racano of the Ocean Outfall Group and the Stop Diablo Canyon Testing Facebook Community. (

No decision was made at the meeting, since it was a special workshop to gather information and discuss the status of PG&E’s proposed Central Coast seismic imaging project, PG&E’s application for a Scientific Collecting Permit and the California Department of Fish and Game’s draft parameters for that permit. Agency staff also discussed the Commission’s regulatory authorities, roles of other state and federal agencies and plans to minimize study impacts and lessons learned for future projects.

The Commission has regulatory authority to protect natural resources and oversee Marine Protected Areas, including those near Diablo Canyon, according to a DFG news release. However, the Fish and Game Commission does not have authority to manage whales, dolphins or sea otters. Marine mammals are protected under federal authorities.

Chumash representatives slam plan, lack of consultation

Representatives of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council said they strongly opposed the seismic testing plan – and hadn’t been formally consulted by PGE, state and federal authorities about the project, as is required by state, federal and international laws.

“We have been here for 18,000 years and you we don't give you permission to take wildlife off our coast,” said Fred Collins, the Northern Chumash Tribal Council Administrator. (

Collins drove the 12 hour round trip to speak, for only the 2 minutes allowed, to the Commission, asking them to not permit the seismic testing.

In a follow up statement, Collins said, “I find it very difficult to comprehend how under duress the animals, plants, trees and living things, which include us, how close to the edge of oblivion we have come. When it shows up on your door step it becomes a defiant wake up call. It's good to see everyone working together to prevent this from happening - this is what is necessary for our children’s children to have a future."

In a letter read to the Commission, Tribal Chair Antonette Cordero requested a meeting with Kellogg and Commission staff – and said she will also be contacting PG&E to schedule a meeting with their project staff.

“I have been informed by the States Land Commission that PG&E committed to reaching out to all Chumash tribal entities and other affected Native American groups after it was revealed that their initial outreach was inadequate,” said Cordero.” However, I, as tribal chair of the Coastal Bank of the Chumash Nation, have not been contacted.”

“Our right to defend our culture, our ancestors and our marine relatives is guaranteed under federal laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, under California laws, such as the California Environmental Quality Act and the Marine Life Protection Act, and under international accords, such as the United States Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Our obligation to steward these areas comes from the Creator and pre-dates state, federal or international laws,” said Cordero.

The Barbareno Chumash Council of Santa Barbara also opposed the testing in a statement.

“The territorial, cultural, and religious rights of the Chumash Nation are being challenged and undermined in insidious ways by Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the Diablo Nuclear Power Plant establishment. The Chumash Nation has an inherit right and International Right, to determine what is beneficial, safe and unendangered of our future generations of all life whom thrive on our lands and waters from Morro Bay to Santa Monica Bay. This Right and responsibility has been given to us by the creator since time immemorial,” the Council stated.

The big risk to whales and other marine life revealed!

The tremendous risk the seismic testing presents to whales, dolphins and other marine life is starkly revealed on page 121 of the "Central Coastal California Seismic Imaging Project Environmental Assessment" under Section 4.12.5, Potential Numbers of 'Takes by Harassment.' (

The worst case scenario (including a 25% contingency) of “take by harassment” includes 1 Minke Whale, 2 Sperm Whales, 5 Dwarf Sperm Whales, 15 Blue Whales, 97 California Gray Whales, 25 Fin Whales, 13 Humpback Whales, 1 Short-Finned Pilot Whale, 3 Baird’s Beak, 7 Killer Whales, 8 Striped Dolphins, 8 Small Beaked Whales, 81 Dall’s Porpoise, 82 Long-Beaked Dolphins, 98 Risso’s Dolphins, 114 Northern Right Whale Dolphins, 198 Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, 1,652 Bottlenose Dolphins, 1,834 Short-Beaked Dolphins, 76 Harbor Seals, 1,062 California Sea Lions,1,485 Southern Sea Otters, untold sea turtles of several varieties, numerous fish and bird species and the next generation sea life including nearly 4 million larva of all types. (


Assembly Bill 1632 (Blakeslee) 2006 required the California Energy Commission (CEC) to compile and assess potential vulnerabilities to a major disruption of the State’s two nuclear facilities due to aging or from a major seismic event.

In 2008, a previously undiscovered fault zone was found in the vicinity of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and the CEC issued a report concluding that three-dimensional geophysical seismic reflection mapping and other advanced techniques should be used to explore fault zones near Diablo Canyon. In 2009, the CEC and the California Public Utilities Commission directed PG&E to complete the three-dimensional geophysical studies recommended by the CEC.

The State Lands Commission (SLC), lead agency on the proposed project, certified the EIR for the project on Aug. 14 and on Aug. 20 SLC adopted the Mitigation Monitoring Program, Findings, and Statement of Overriding Considerations. Additionally, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) will consider PG&E’s application for a coastal development permit at their Oct. 10-12 meeting in Oceanside.

List of upcoming events and meetings (

October 6th and 7th, Tabling for letters at the Harbor Festival, come work with the STDCST team

October 10th, LIGHTS OUT AGAINST SEISMIC TESTING! Join people throughout California as we dim our lights for 1 hour starting at 8:00pm Pacific Standard Time in a statewide show of solidarity against seismic testing at both Diablo Canyon and San Onofre Nuclear Waste Plants.

October 8th, On the new moon, come take part in the first ever Avila Calling of the Whales Light Festival, on the beach in Avila! You will need to bring your own flashlight. Singers, ceremony, whale song and LIGHTS! Details to be announced.

October 10th-11th or 12th, California Coastal Commission in Oceanside. Be there, call or Fax them, or write them a letter at:

Central Coast District Office
Dan Carl, Deputy Director
725 Front Street, Suite 300
Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4508
(831) 427-4863
FAX (831) 427-4877

Originally posted to Dan Bacher on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 08:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by SFKossacks and California politics.

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Comment Preferences

  •  thanks for keeping us updated (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, navajo, brook, jbob, mrsgoo

    that is heartening news.

    Die with your boots on. If you're gonna try, well stick around. Gonna cry? Just move along. The truth of all predictions is always in your hands. - Iron Maiden

    by Cedwyn on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 08:14:22 AM PDT

  •  Any truth to the rumor (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, brook

    that it's not really about seismic testing, but searching for frackable gas?

    "To recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government." Historian Barbara Tuchman

    by Publius2008 on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 08:17:52 AM PDT

  •  this diary doesn't state an (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, brook, cassandracarolina

    alternative to what the state should do to assess offshore fault zones that may be a hazard. Nor does the diary explain precisely what "seismic testing" is other than that it sounds vaguely scary. I know what it is, being a geophysics enthusist. Others probably don't.

    pseudoscience can kill

    by terrypinder on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:02:54 AM PDT

    •  seismic testing is occurring (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      widely throughout the US.  Not for earthquakes, to determine if fracking is appropriate.  Is this a pretext for fracking research?

      Seems a science guy like you would want to dig into this story a little.

      "To recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government." Historian Barbara Tuchman

      by Publius2008 on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:15:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  For instance, see this story: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "To recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government." Historian Barbara Tuchman

        by Publius2008 on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:22:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  i'm aware of what (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cassandracarolina, greengemini

        reflection seismology is used for. yes, globally, primarily it is used for hydrocarbon and mineral resource extraction. earthquake hazard research historically has been secondary. Only reason Angelinos know of the vast network of blind faults in and around Los Angeles is from the oil and gas industry (well that and "surprise" earthquakes).

        Its use in pure research is fairly new. Even in California there are faults that don't reach the surface, and won't be known unless someone somehow images the subsurface, or they rupture.

        What they're doing around Diablo Canyon isn't proof that this is happening and if there's another way to ascertain the actual seismic hazard in the area, i hope they use it, although in the case of the article you linked, any data obtained is probably available for anyone to use (if it's done by the state/utility, if it's a private entity the data's generally propriatary), including the oil and gas industry.

        pseudoscience can kill

        by terrypinder on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:40:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The ocean floor there has been mapped (0+ / 0-)

          it's not as if they don't know which, where and how many faults that the plant is sitting on or near. There's a map.

          PG&E originally built one of the reactors backwards.

           It's license should not be renewed.

          Some solution needs to be reached for the hundreds of casks of waste stored there

           It's license should not be renewed.

          There is no adequate escape route for us should there be a serious incident. It's possible to have a Fukishima-like event one day.

           It's license should not be renewed.

          And this seismic study must NOT be allowed to proceed.

          Forever is composed of nows. Emily Dickinson

          by brook on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 10:11:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  the subsurface offshore has been mapped? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            That's what i'm asking, since it's obvious it wasn't done well if a previously undetected surface fault parallel to the coast was discovered in 2008, which is the apparent reason for the additional offshore testing.

            (On the other hand, the original mapping was done in the 70s and 80s, when things like LiDAR did not exist, which is partially how the Shoreline Fault was discovered in the first place in 2008).

            I do agree though, the plant probably should not have its license renewed.

            pseudoscience can kill

            by terrypinder on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 10:24:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Timeline info Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant (0+ / 0-)

          This might be helpful in answering some of your questions-

          Diablo Canyon Timeline

          Forever is composed of nows. Emily Dickinson

          by brook on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 11:37:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  There is more information in my previous diary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There is more information in my previous diary about the specifics of the testing. Also see the NRDC article link re. alternatives. The piece is already way too long!

  •  Thank you for this, Dan. (0+ / 0-)

    Living in the shadow of this plant, it's heartening to see the word go out. We need everyone who cares about the ocean, sea life, environment and not licensing antiquated nuclear plants to speak out.

    Forever is composed of nows. Emily Dickinson

    by brook on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 10:17:19 AM PDT

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