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Proposed Ballot Measure Would Shut California Nuclear Plants

SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) -- A proposed state ballot initiative would force California's two nuclear power plants to shut down, causing electricity rates to jump and possibly resulting in rolling blackouts, according to a nonpartisan analysis.

The proposed Nuclear Waste Act of 2012 would require that no nuclear power be generated until the federal government can permanently dispose of high-level nuclear waste.

In a report to lawmakers, the legislative analyst's office said the loss of the San Onofre and Diablo Canyon reactors would have an immediate impact on consumers, businesses and governments, the Orange County Register reported Wednesday. The plants provide about 16 percent of California's power.

"Because the state's two nuclear facilities are integral parts of the state's electricity grid, their operation is currently necessary to ensure that the state has reliable access to electricity," the LAO report said.

The initiative has been cleared for circulation, and supporters must gather 504,760 signatures to get the initiative on the November ballot, the newspaper said. The deadline is April 16.

Southern California Edison, which operates San Onofre, has joined with the Nuclear Energy Institute and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners to file lawsuits against the federal government seeking permanent storage for nuclear waste.

Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, the federal government promised to accept and dispose of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste by Jan. 31, 1998. Nearly 14 years have passed since the deadline.

Southern California Edison declined to comment on the proposed initiative unless the measure ends up before voters.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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