Ms. ESHOO. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk. [Page: H5053]
The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
Mrs. CAPPS. I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
My amendment would ensure the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not move forward with the license renewal process for the Diablo Canyon power plant, located in my congressional district, until advanced seismic studies are completed and independently reviewed. [Page: H5062]
Over the last several months, I've called for a short pause in the relicensing effort currently under way at this nuclear power plant until a myriad of seismic questions at the facility are answered. Further studies are needed to demonstrate if the plant's design and operations can withstand an earthquake and other potential threats, including a previously undetected fault line, the Shoreline Fault, which runs within a few hundred yards of the plant. Even PG&E, the plant's operator, has acknowledged
the validity of these concerns.
Earlier this year, the utility acceded to my request and asked the NRC to delay the finance issuance of the plant's license renewal while it completes recommended advanced seismic studies of the area. The NRC agreed to review those findings before making a final decision. PG&E also asked the California Public Utilities Commission to suspend proceedings associated with license renewal for Diablo Canyon until the studies are submitted to the NRC.
But, Mr. Chairman, PG&E and the NRC are only talking about delaying the final decision. The relicensing process is still going forward, despite the fact that virtually all of the decisions that would be made about the relicensing of the plant would be affected by what the seismic studies tell us. The cart is clearly being put before the horse here, and we need to rectify this.
My constituents deserve answers to questions regarding the ability of the plant to withstand an earthquake and nuclear accident at the same time and how long the plant would be self-sustaining in the event of such damage. It is particularly pertinent given that in March the NRC confirmed that Diablo Canyon is one of two nuclear power plants in the highest risk seismic areas in the country.
I am, to put it lightly, concerned that the NRC has not taken this seismic risk seriously enough. For example, it has failed to support the recommendations from a 2008 California Energy Commission report clearly delineating that more information is needed to determine the true seismic risk at Diablo Canyon. And just yesterday, an NRC task force review of the Japanese reactor meltdowns determined that our reactors are not sufficiently prepared to respond to catastrophic events or even simple power
outages, like the one that triggered the Fukushima meltdown.
The NRC should quickly move to adopt the recommendations of this report as well as the full complement of lessons that can be learned from this disaster, and it should do it before moving forward on issuing new operating licenses to PG&E to run Diablo Canyon long into the future.
Finally, it is important to note, Mr. Chairman, that there is no hurry to relicense Diablo Canyon. The current operating licenses run to 2024 and 2025. Surely that's more than enough time to adequately investigate seismic concerns in a thoughtful and transparent manner.
To be clear, I'm not calling for Diablo Canyon to be shut down or for the plant to be denied new operating licenses. What I am doing with this amendment is asking that the relicensing process be paused, briefly, until comprehensive, independent analyses of the seismic issues are completed and that they be considered as part of the relicensing process.
Diablo Canyon provides over 3 million people in California with affordable electricity. It provides many jobs in my district. It's an important element of the tax base of San Luis Obispo County; but this is an issue about safety, and we all agree that safety must be everyone's number one concern here.
I urge my colleagues to support this amendment that would ensure that this is the case.
I yield back the balance of my time.
POINT OF ORDER
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I make a point of order against the amendment because it proposes to change existing law and constitutes legislation in an appropriation bill and therefore violates clause 2 of rule XXI.
The rule states in pertinent part, ``An amendment to a general appropriation bill shall not be in order if changing existing law.'' The amendment requires a new determination.
I ask for a ruling from the Chair.
The Acting CHAIR. Does any Member wish to be heard on the point of order?
If not, the Chair is prepared to rule.
For the reasons stated by the Chair on February 17, June 2, and July 7, 2011, the amendment constitutes legislation in violation of clause 2 of rule XXI.
The point of order is sustained. The amendment is not in order.
AMENDMENT NO. 66 OFFERED BY MR.