On Tuesday, Safe and Green members brought your voice to Washington, DC. Our message: the state and the public must have a real role in decommissioning planning, which currently is simply between the corporation and the captive regulator, the NRC. Our timing could not have been better. The Vermont delegation will meet with state officials next week to discuss the negotiations with Entergy. Aides for Senators Markey and Sanders have also been engaged in the NRC’s Waste Confidence rule making. Just two days after our meetings, the NRC’s Senate Oversight Committee had a hearing with the five NRC Commissioners. They were grilled by Sen. Sanders. His opening remarks were classic Bernie:
“The people of VT have wanted to shut that plant down for a long time and feel pretty good about the decision to shut it down this year. The rules allow the NRC to negotiate a decommissioning process – there is no role for the state in the process. On the face of it that just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The people have a right to have a place at the table. Decommissioning could take SIXTY years – SIX ZERO – 60! Imagine having a hulking mass in Southern Vermont deteriorating for 60 years.”
He told the NRC that either they write a rule creating a “real role” for states, or he would introduce legislation to do so. Sen. Barbara Boxer, the chair, said she will co-sponsor. [Watch the two hour hearing here.] [Watch just Bernie here]
Nancy Braus and Leslie Sullivan Sachs had individual meetings with the energy staffers for Senators Warren and Markey of Massachusetts, Senators Leahy and Sanders, and Rep. Welch of Vermont. From the depth of knowledge staffers had on the myriad of issues relating to Yankee and nuclear reactors in the US, we are confident that Senators Markey, Leahy and Sanders are well informed and engaged. However, we pointed out that we had heard nothing from Leahy, Welch and Sanders since the closure announcement. We asked the Vermont delegation to follow Senator Markey’s example — to become more vocal on where they stand on the issues and what actions they are taking, keep an up-to-date web page, and comment on nuclear news. Today, Bernie’s webpage has a photo of Yankee on the home page, linking to a new section, “What Happens After Nuclear Plants Close?” .
Jacob Smith, policy advisor to Senator Sanders, was excited by our description of Entergy as a poster child for the corporate takeover of democracy – massive federal subsidies for an old technology, a captive regulator, lying executives, pollution that lasts for generations all make it a perfect fit for Bernie’s messaging. Jacob said he would pass it along to the senator’s communications advisor. It’s probably coincidence, but it is still gratifying to see a press release and related stories in today’s papers on Sanders and the NRC.
Coverage included this article in the National Law Journal, on Sanders’ invitation to Republicans to eliminate the Price Anderson liability limits.
‘ Republicans had given “speech after speech” arguing that that it is government that is preventing industry from succeeding.
“I wonder if any of my conservative friends would co-sponsor with me legislation to repeal Price Anderson so that we can leave the nuclear power industry alone and not get involved with government,” Sanders said. “I look forward to working with Senator [David] Vitter [R-La.] or Senator Inhofe on getting the government out of the nuclear power industry. Any volunteers at this point?” ‘