Stick It in L.A.! Community Control and Nuclear Power in California's Central Valley

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When construction plans were announced in 1973, the San Joaquin Nuclear Project (SJNP) split Wasco into two factions. Some so feared that the project would steal farmers' irrigation water and destroy agriculture that they put aside their farming for a season to campaign against it and boycott supporters' businesses. Eventually, much of the community united in opposition to the project and its sponsor, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). Toward the end of the conflict, in 1978, there were reports of vandalism of LADWP equipment. Farmers harassed construction workers building the plant so much they could not enter local restaurants without a confrontation or feel safe leaving their vehicles unattended. If the Department of Water and Power had not canceled the plant's construction, Neufeld is convinced his allies would have used violence. The farmers' political campaign succeeded in shifting public opinion. In March 1978, the citizens of Kern County voted by 70 percent to reject the SJNP. It was the first time that American citizens canceled a nuclear power plant.


This article was originally published in Journal of American History. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of American History


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