Editorial: Veto of bill to map Diablo fault puzzling

We’re relieved that the governor did not make good on his threat to veto all 707 bills on his desk unless lawmakers agreed on a plan to overhaul the state’s ailing water system.

But like many others in California, we’re scratching our heads over Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s reasoning — or lack thereof — in signing some bills and vetoing others.

We’re especially disappointed that he vetoed Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee’s bill dealing with an earthquake fault near Diablo Canyon. The bill would have required Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to conduct more extensive mapping of a newly discovered fault near the nuclear plant.

The governor apparently believed the legislation was redundant, because previous legislation had already recommended a three-dimensional study of fault zones near the plant. There is a big difference, however, between recommending a course of action and specifically requiring it.

Blakeslee’s bill would have made the study mandatory. Information generated by the research then could have been used to determine whether more seismic strengthening is needed not only at the plant, but also at accessory buildings and other structures on the property.

Blakeslee told The Tribune he’s optimistic that PG&E will conduct the study on its own, without being compelled by legislation. We hope his optimism isn’t misplaced. Especially with relicensing of Diablo Canyon looming, it’s crucial to have the most accurate information available on all potential threats to the facility, and we urge PG&E to move forward with the recommended fault study.

Blakeslee vowed to resurrect the bill next year if PG&E doesn’t act. That’s a good move — let’s just hope the governor can be persuaded to see it that way.