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Friday, Apr 19, 2024

Poll Numbers Won’t Win the San Onofre Fight

The Obama campaign tracked the buying and leisure habits of 29,000 voters as far back as 2008? Most presidential campaigns track about 1,500 voters for nearly a year. It turns out this is exactly what Mitt Romney’s brain trust did. Is it any wonder why Barack Obama was re-elected?

I mention this in light of a mid-September poll commissioned by Friends of the Earth. The results indicated strong support among Southern California Edison customers for closing the San Onofre nuclear power plant. The poll surveyed 700 customers. It found that 58 percent oppose restarting the plant, which has been shuttered since January.

Can one assume those 406 Edison customers are the nail in San Onofre’s coffin? Not according to SCE. Thirty percent of those asked do not favor closing the plant.

Here’s what an Edison spokeswoman had to say: “Any survey of its customers’ opinions should accurately describe the role San Onofre plays both in power generation and reliability and grid support — that is, the fact that the nuclear plant produces power round the clock, regardless of weather, unlike wind or solar power.”

The September survey also reports that 47 percent of those polled believe Edison puts profits, not safety, first. Not surprisingly, SCE says that safety is its main priority.

Believing that the plant should have been subjected to more thorough review of steam-generator design changes by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Friends of the Earth has been critical of Edison’s handling of the problems at San Onofre.

They aren’t the only ones.

Other voices have questioned the design of the plant.

The earthquake and tsunamis that disabled Fukushima left a 20 kilometer zone as a “no-go” area. Is this what leaders in Carlsbad and Oceanside want?

At this point, the cities of San Clemente, Laguna Beach and Irvine have signed resolutions opposing rebooting the nuclear power plant. I’m not surprised, since I represented several beach cities and the Orange County Board of Supervisors in the “No on Offshore Oil Drilling” fight back in the mid-1980s.

I like to think that the combination of 22 local Republican mayors and numerous conservative business leaders all saying no to the Reagan administration proved to be too much for the Interior Department, that and some members of Congress at the time. They lobbied hard on Capitol Hill to kill the idea of drilling along our coast.

Is it possible for a host of cities in San Diego and Orange counties to shut down San Onofre for good? I don’t know, but I commend them for trying.

As powerful as the mid-September poll results were, I’m afraid the beliefs of 406 Edison customers won’t be the game-changer that Friends of the Earth is counting on to close San Onofre. No, there’s a better way to accomplish that goal.

I realize that most people are more interested in the holidays now. However, it’s never too early to start working on the next phase of the “No on SanO” campaign. Who’s with me?

Denny Freidenrich is a marketing and public relations consultant in Laguna Beach.  He can be reached at first.strategies@verizon.net.


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