People’s Lobby Press Release of March 1976
STATEMENT BY JOYCE KOUPAL
LOS ANGELES COUNTY ENERGY COMMISSIONER
MARCH 26, 1976
The question which this Commission is considering today has been a major concern of many of the most prominent citizens, scientists, and statesmen of our day. In the last several years, we have heard Nobel Laureates argue among themselves about the safety, reliability and necessity of atomic power. We have seen scientists resign from government jobs because federal regulation of the nuclear industry is a sham. We have felt the economic crunch of atomic power — plants that only operate about half the time and end up costing two to three times their projected prices. We have watched the nuclear industry beg Congress to finance the entire atomic energy program because its costs are so great. We have witnessed cover—ups of internal Atomic Energy Commission documents reminiscent of Watergate. And we have experienced a significant citizen reaction to the atomic energy program in California: a proposal to put nuclear energy policy-making in the hands of the people through their elected representatives.
The atomic energy industry has made many promises and raised many questions about whether nuclear power is safe, reliable, and economical. But the people of California want not shallow promises of energy independence, not uncertainties about safety and reliability, but humane and realistic solutions to our energy problems. The citizens of California will no longer tolerate consideration of this issue by kangaroo courts intent on rendering premeditated decisions without judicious and fair consideration.
This hearing is a sham and a disservice to the people of California. It has been hastily convened and ill—conceived in a token attempt to shed a well-screened ray of public light on a decision the Board of Supervisors will, make behind closed doo4s. Why, when the citizens of California have qualified an initiative to open up energy decision-making by putting it in the hands of the legislature, would this Commission defraud the public through a hearing of this nature?
The Commission considered this question in February and chose to hold hearings. Had we made the decision to consider the issue at that time, we may have had the opportunity to validly review the energy question and make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. But hearings thrown together in such a hasty fashion, with so little consideration, cannot be termed appropriate or adequate for an issue of such gravity.
Since the Los Angeles County Energy Commission formally took office in December, 1973, its validity and integrity have been questionable.. You may remember that I appeared before the Board regarding my concern that our commission was so riddled with conflicts of interest that it should probably be dissolved. At this time, I believe that the Commission should, minimally, not pretend to consider the questions presented by the Proposition 15 in view of the gravity of the issue, the history of government deception, and the hearing witnesses as they are presented here today.
I say this because I, as a citizen, have a conflict of interest on this issue, I say this because both m~ husband and myself have worked for safe nuclear power. And I say this because we know, in a very personal way, the issue which we are addressing. My husband, who has worked to qualify safe energy initiatives in 16 states and has spent his life in pursuit of true self-government and a humane society, is dieing of cancer. 9ince 1972, we have fought for safe nuclear power, and we will continue to do so until we achieve our goal. I ~kef9 Chairman Foster to delay these hearings in deference to my situation at this time. In spite of the fact that Commission hearings have been delayed for such events as Chamber of Commerce hearings, the Chairman refused to delay them.
I now realize that life and death move inexorably forward. That my husband will die, of the very disease that we consider when we discuss atomic energy and its consequences. And that I have confronted many of society’s taboos by coming here today, when my husband is seriously ill. But I know that in spite of the conflicts of interest, and the billions of taxpayers’ dollars that have been poured into the nuclear industry, we must seriously consider the question of whether atomic power is safe. Reliable and economical. And I know that this commission, by its hastily conceived hearings, is only paying lip service to the issue.
I ask not that the Commission support Proposition 15 as I and my husband do, but only that we seriously and conscientiously consider the issue, and that this hearing be only the beginn4nq of our review. I move that we extend these hearings until May, when we can assemble a hearing panel of experts to express their views on the question so that we can present a public hearing that is worthy or the name. I ask this for the people of California and for myself, because I know what radioactivity does and what cancer is. And I am afraid that the decision this Commission may make as c~ result of so little consideration will be one more nail in the coffin of our society and those to come.