Oral Histories

Interview of Daniel Hirsch

Founder of Committee to Bridge the Gap. Director, Program on Environmental and Nuclear Policy, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Environmental Activism in Los Angeles
Social Movements
Environmental Movement
Collings, Jane
Hirsch, Daniel
Persons Present:
Hirsch and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Young Research Library, UCLA.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, principal editor and interviewer, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; Ph.D., Critical Studies in Film and Television, UCLA.
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer prepared a timed log of the audio recording of the interview. Hirsch was given the opportunity to review the log in order to supply missing or misspelled names and to verify the accuracy of the content. The corrections made were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
7.25 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The series documents environmental activism in the Los Angeles area from the 1970s through to the present day. The majority of interviews are with either founders or knowledgeable participants in major regional environmental organizations. Represented groups embody a wide range of issues, including conservation, restoration, environmental justice and toxic waste disposal.
Early life—Parent’s flight from Nazi Germany—Early experiences of anti-Semitism—Attends University High School in Los Angeles—Intercultural initiatives at University High—Harvard University in the 1960s—Vietnam War draft—Student takeover at Harvard—Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)—Involvement in establishing new pedagogical practices—Anti-war influence on Hirsch's educational approach—Embrace of counterculture pedagogy—Work against Vietnam War—Frustration with SDS tactics—Community anti-war activism—Committee to Bridge the Gap (CBG)—Shakertown Pledge—Education work at UCLA—Trial of Daniel Ellsberg—Indochina Peace Campaign—Four Freedoms and the post-colonial era—Vietnam War atrocities—Non-violence course at UCLA—CBG and Palestinian sovereignty issue—Shift from peace movement to antinuclear work—Nuclear weapons freeze campaign—China Syndrome film—Three Mile Island nuclear plant meltdown—Safety violations at UCLA Boelter Hall reactor—Struggle to decommission Boelter Hall reactor—Reactor cleanup operation—Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)—CBG and UCLA reactor—Obstacles to challenging nuclear plant licensing.
Shutdown of UCLA Boelter Hall nuclear reactor—Regulations controlling weapons grade uranium—Nuclear dumpsites in Southern California—Another Mother Fund for Peace—Santa Susana Field Laboratory accident—Cover-up of Santa Susana accident—Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition—Push-back against re-licensing of Santa Susana reactor—Health study of Santa Susana contamination area—Media suppression of Santa Susana contamination—White House legislation for nuclear reactor—California SB 990 proposal—SB 990 is struck down—Continuing lack of accountability for Santa Susana site—Scope of contamination—Improper disposal of radioactive waste material—Frustration with activism on nuclear issue—Impact of Chernobyl nuclear accident on U.S. containment practices—Hanford N reactor—1989 review of Santa Susana reactor publicized—Cleanup Coalition—Personal injury suits—Scope of ongoing oversight work—Teens against Toxins—Environmental coverage after cutbacks in journalism.
Friendship with Laura Huxley—Fire at Huxley home—Work with Huxley on peace education—Huxley and psychosynthesis—Huxley's surviving manuscripts—The Huxleys and the counterculture—Laura Huxley’s You Are Not the Target—Aldous Huxley’s books Island, Brave New World, and The Education of an Amphibian—Laura Huxley and the counterculture—Huxley and the peace movement—The Huxleys' life in the United States—Impact of Huxley’s ecological thought—Consciousness raising and the nature of power—Laura Huxley and Harvard University—Undergraduate education at Harvard in the 1960s—San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station—Criminal charges against Southern California Edison—Impact of Fukushima nuclear plant accident—Shutdown of San Onofre—Importance of renewable energy—Problem of nuclear waste from plants—Obstacles to social change.
The founding of Committee to Bridge the Gap (CBG)—CBG’s work—Work with Senator Barbara Boxer—Diablo Canyon nuclear site—Pacific Gas and Electric's efforts to hide seismic faults near Diablo Canyon—Struggle against Diablo Canyon nuclear plant—Friends of the Earth—Earthquake faults and potential nuclear sites—Corruption in the nuclear industry—Solar energy poses challenge to energy industry—Grassroots activism versus an "astro-turf" activism—The Citizens United Supreme Court decision—Need for mass movement on climate change.
Committee to Bridge the Gap (CBG)’s nuclear activism—CBG work against the Vietnam War—Role of Southern California Edison and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission—Earthquake fault lines near Diablo Canyon—Efforts to end nuclear energy in California—Efforts to shutg down the Diablo Canyon plant—Lobbying for changes in nuclear policy—U.S. Department of Energy report on radioactive contamination—Environmental protection under the Trump administration—Current CBG initiatives.