Bernie Sanders and Nuclear Power

US Senator Bernie Sanders

US Senator Bernie Sanders speaking at our Defend Democracy rally in 2012 to shut down Vermont Yankee. Brattleboro, VT.

Our experience is that, along with US Sen. Ed Markey of MA,  US Senator Bernie has been the anti-nuclear movement’s strongest ally in Congress. 

Recently, Sanders has been attacked as not being strong enough on  nuclear power, based on one decision he made 20 years ago on agreeing to move VT nuclear waste to Texas. He was bluntly honest about his reasons for doing so: it was a bill that would never pass, during a tough election campaign.

Here is our brief look at his anti-nuclear record.

He has convened Town Meetings here on the issue, has spoken forcefully at our events at our invitation, and his staff has met with Safe & Green members here and in Washington DC. They are clearly well-informed and responsive. He has long been an ally on many fronts. Here are some YouTube videos, links to a few of his press releases, and articles. We only went back to 2001, when he held a Town Meeting in Brattleboro covered by the NY Times, but these are good overviews.

US Sen. Sanders sits on the US Senate Environment & Public Works Committee. He also sits on its Clean Air & Nuclear Safety subcommittee, which has oversight of the NRC. He is only one of three Senators to criticize and question nuclear power, the NRC as a captive regulator, and the nuclear industry’s capture of Congress. The 12 remaining members of  the subcommittee are all staunchly pro-nuclear.

“The function of the NRC is not to side with Entergy or other nuclear power companies in a disagreement with a host state,” Sanders said.  The function of the NRC is to protect the safety of the American people.”

US Senator Bernie Sanders web page: Energy & Env. Legislation.

March 15, 2012 Fukushima, the Nuclear Industry & Its Flaws

April 2015 Introduces 3 bills on radioactive waste, decommissioning, and citizens’ voice in NRC process. In 2014, he introduced the Nuclear Plant Decommissioning Act to give states and local communities “a meaningful role” in preparing decommissioning plans.

October 2012 US Sen. Bernie Sanders on Climate Progress

But it is not just fossil fuel companies. The nuclear industry also benefits from massive corporate welfare. The non-partisan Congressional Research Service reports that the nuclear industry has received over $95 billion (in 2011 dollars) in federal research and development support in the last 65 years. Nuclear corporations currently have access to billions in federal loan guarantees to build new plants and enrich uranium. They also have federal tax incentives for mining uranium, producing nuclear electricity and even decommissioning a plant.

Perhaps most significantly, the nuclear industry would collapse tomorrow without a huge nuclear insurance program from the federal government.

June 2011: Nuclear Power Safety, demanding the NRC intervene in Entergy’s law suit against Vermont, on the right of the state of Vermont to determine its own energy future, and on public safety.

April 12, 2012 video excerpt of Bernie speaking at our “Defend Democracy” rally, on the Brattleboro Common ( above photo)

You can read his full speech from the Defend Democracy Rally here

March 2007: US Sen. Bernie Sanders introduces legislation calling for independent safety assessments.

“People who live near Vermont Yankee and near reactors all over the country are entitled to know that everything humanly possible is being done to make certain there will never be another Three Mile Island.” Sanders’ legislation would require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to conduct an independent safety assessment when utilities apply to extend licenses for aging plants. The special study could be undertaken at the request of the governor of a state where a plant is located, or by the governor of a neighboring state affected by a plant’s operation.”

December 2001 Town Meeting convened by Sanders on VT Yankee.



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