Editorial Points: Is Sentiment Shifting On Vermont Yankee?

April 20, 2011

in News,Opinion

You Never Can Tell, by Chuck Gundersen
If responses thus far to the current Vermont Standard website poll are an accurate indication, public opinion is slowly, but surely, moving back in favor of seeing Vermont Yankee’s license to operate its Vernon plant renewed when it is due to expire in 2012.
Recently the Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave Vermont Yankee the green light to operate beyond 2012, despite the disastrous events in Japan. Even so, the Shumlin administration remains adamant about closing the plant. However, the Vermont Legislature is in the unique position of having the last word about closing Yankee – or not.
Public opinion may not be so absolute as that of the Shumlin administration. Before elected officials take the final vote they would do well to thoroughly inquire of their constituents to be sure where they stand on the issue today. From our vantage point, currently 53 percent are telling the Standard’s website poll that the “benefits of renewing the operating license outweigh the risks.” In contrast, 38 percent indicate “the risk is too great,” while another nine percent are undecided.
Obviously, safety is a key consideration. Further, Vermonters cannot condone operators of the facility repeatedly under-reporting dangerous issues there. Whereas the Standard poll asks only about safety aspects, more than that is at stake if Yankee closes next year. Lost jobs, loss of tax revenue to local communities and the State and making up for 20% of Vermont’s electrical energy, which the facility generates, are also important parts of the equation.
The Shumlin administration and those members of the Legislature who have clearly and consistently said Vermont Yankee should be closed down have not sufficiently explained how the State will make up for the non-safety aspects of the situation. Perhaps for safety and poor management reasons the plug should be pulled, but what about the other consequences if Vermont does so? Where are the clear and convincing details needed to make a rational decision? It’s far more than just a safety issue.
Philip C. Camp


Previous post:

Next post: