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By Jim Shilander
Local anti-nuclear advocates celebrated a year without the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Saturday at the San Clemente Community Center, hearing from celebrity activist Ed Begley Jr., as well as others, as they prepare for the next public hearing on the status of Unit 2, scheduled for February 12.
Begley said he connected with San Clemente Green, the organization that hosted the event, through Rochelle Becker of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility. Begley said he’d been aware of San Onofre since using still photos he’d taken of the plant as part of a stand-up comedy act in 1975.
Begley noted his own experiences with conservation, which he began in earnest in 1970, and said those hoping to see the plant shut down for good had a responsibility themselves to help manage their own power usage.
“If we want to keep San Onofre closed, we have a responsibility to conserve,” Begley said.
Begley noted a number of steps that could be taken immediately to conserve power, such as the installation of energy-efficient weather stripping, and putting non-essential electronics on power strips, to allow them to be turned off all together at night.
“We have a role in this too,” Begley said. “We have to step up and conserve.”
Begley said conservation was the most affordable way for people to start to work toward saving energy, though he had also added solar panels and a wind turbine to his own home. Those options, he said, had become more affordable for the average person as well.
San Clemente Green co-founder Gary Headrick said one of the goals of the celebration was to provide momentum toward the public hearing.
“Tonight is a great opportunity to raise awareness,” Headrick said. “We’re looking forward to speaking with the NRC. We don’t want them to experiment with our lives by restarting.”
Other speakers at the event included Steve Bender, the president of the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce. Bender said the there was plenty of growth in “green jobs,” in California, including retrofitting homes with environmentally-friendly materials to construction of wind turbines, solar panels and building electric vehicles. While much of that industry was based in Northern California, Bender said such industries were also growing in Southern California.