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vt.Buzz ~ a political blog

Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



VY travels

A week ago Sunday, I was strolling down a sidewalk in southern California when a woman from Greenpeace approached and asked for our help in saving the whales. There was a whale festival going on in honor of gray whale migration season.

The conversation inevitably turned to where we were from. Before I knew it, pretty much my first conversation in California turned to Vermont Yankee.

“Oh, we just shut down the nuclear power plant there," she said. "Because of Greenpeace.”

To which I replied, “Sort of.”

As in, Greenpeace sort of was involved and the plant has sort of been shut down.

I didn't expect the whale woman to know all the details, any more than I have a clue about whales. It struck me, though, the way the word was spreading.

Greenpeace lobbied against Vermont Yankee, but one might argue that a number of other organizations were also involved and that Vermont Yankee itself played quite a role in the vote the Senate recently took not to support continued operation.

It's also very much still running. As irony would have it, I’d been there for a tour just two days earlier and stood in the control room while they powered it back up to 100 percent from running at 70-something percent for fuel maintenance.

Technically speaking, what the Senate did was vote not to allow the Public Service Board to rule on Vermont Yankee’s continued operation after March 2012. That vote could still be reversed or challenged.

The whale-saver might not have had all the nuclear power details down, but it goes to show you this story is migrating faster than a gray whale.

- Terri Hallenbeck


Hope you enjoyed California! I just wanted to clarify a couple of points in your post.

Greenpeace has canvassers in 13 cities across the country that stand on street corners and recruit monthly donations from individuals. Because we don't accept corporate or government gifts, regular people make up the bulk of our funding. This young woman appears to have been most knowledgeable about our whaling campaign, so apologies for anything that was off base in regard to Vermont Yankee.

You are right that the Senate's decision was pushed along by Entergy's own blunders, but the environmental organizations here in VT were a major piece of the puzzle. Groups like VPIRG, CAN, Safe&Green, VNRC, VYDA, Sierra Club, and the New England Coalition were all instrumental in the campaign. We at GP acknowledge that we weren't the sole cause of the Senate vote.

And, yes, VY is still leaking radioactivity into our groundwater, which means it hasn't shut down just yet. Greenpeace and others are pushing for a vote to take place in the House before the session closes to confirm for Entergy that there is no place for them in Vermont.

-Jarred Cobb
Northern Vermont Field Organizer
Greenpeace USA
With due deference to the enviros and their efforts, I think the main reasons the Senate voted against relicensing were:

1) leaking pipes Entergy never told us about
2) Entergy's plan to spin off VY into an underfunded subsidiary
3) availability of other reasonably-priced sources for our electricity needs
4) Tim Newcomb's cartoons
Remember - it is an election year and the Democrats rule in Vermont.
Dear Jarred,

Lighten up.


The future adult Jarred Cobb

PS - would you please learn when keeping your mouth shut is OK.
I don't understand the media parroting the disgruntled governor's line that the historic and overwhelming 26-4 Senate vote on Vermont Yankee "could still be reversed or challenged." That applies to every bill passed and statute enacted, as future legislatures are free to undo what past ones have done. But only coverage of this vote to retire Vermont Yankee as scheduled includes that caveat. Why not add such mention to stories on Medicare ("Congress could choose to repeal it") or Dr. Dynasaur ("the legislature may revisit its existence")? Sure, it's reasonable to expect the irresponsible Entergy executives to attempt to thwart the will of Vermonters. But please report those specific developments without speculating on the possibility in reports of this significant vote. -- VTDad
Vermont Yankee is Shumlins ticket to the Governors seat - he has got it all wrapped up.
"The whale-saver might not have had all the nuclear power details down, but it goes to show you this story is migrating faster than a gray whale."

It also goes to show you how ill-informed the passionate zealots for (or against) any cause can be.

I would not have been as polite as you were in responding to this ignoramus.
Its simple: repealing a law is totally different then passing a bill that was only defeated by one chamber in a previous biennium.

They really are different both in legislative process and in the political capital needed to pull the two very different actions off.

Just imagine how much more difficult it would be in 2011-12 to repeal Act 250 compared to passing a new bill to re-license VY.

Remember, the Senate just said "not tonight honey" not "I want a divorce"
I want to apologize for a math error in my last comment.

30 Rem is 3% of 1000 Rem, not 0.3% as I wrote in that comment.

Rod Adams
Publisher, Atomic Insights
@ Rod

So you made a mistake just like Peter Shumlin did on Fox News? Or were you lying just like Peter Shumlin on Fox news?

I just checked your blog and pretty sure you aren't cutting him any slack for his mis-statement which he also admitted to just like you are doing now.

Here's what he said in his latest email

"Peter has made it clear that during the show he mistakenly used an incorrect statistic regarding renewable energy use in Germany. In fact, he said so on the show when the mistake was pointed out to him."

So, should we all expect an update to you blog post?
Shumlin made a "mis-statement" ha-ha-ha-ha
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