Vermont Senate vote shows that Obama’s nuclear renaissance is dead on arrival

by John Deans

February 25, 2010

Well, somehow this cloudy day seems a little brighter as we look back on yesterday’s victory up here in Vermont. Yesterday a whopping 26 members of the 30-member state Senate voted against continuing the license at Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant for another 20 years after its scheduled closing in 2012. This is a huge victory for Vermonters and our clean energy future.

Greenpeace: Vermont Yankee: A bad deal for VT

It was an epic day in many respects, and a testament to the strength of democracy here in Vermont. Hundreds jammed the statehouse, having traveled in terrible blizzard conditions to witness the Senate’s historic vote and make sure senators were hearing from their constituents. As the debate was underway, Senate pages scurried around delivering scores of messages from citizens to senators as they deliberated on the floor. In a memorable moment just before the vote, Senator Choate said, “Just in the past three hours I’ve been delivered 50 to 60 pink slips.” Our volunteers in the state house were working non-stop to make sure voters were contacting their Senators.

Every walk of life was represented there, farmers, schoolteachers, students young and old, business people, and activists who have been fighting the plant since before its construction. It was an inspiring moment for democracy as we saw the true power of grassroots action. When people stand up, raise their voices and organize we can win big victories for the planet and our neighbors. As we traveled around the state holding volunteer meetings, generating calls, letters, and emails, talking to business people, and learning from long-time community members the response was overwhelming.

When I was in Ludlow with a volunteer knocking on doors, one man asked why we were collecting letters. We explained that a group of citizens was meeting with a Senator the next day. “When, where?” he asked, and then showed up at 8:30AM on a Saturday to make sure his Senator would vote the right way. So did 24 other people; and the Senator had no choice. She voted no.

These stories are not unique, the vote yesterday was by a citizen legislature that listens to its people, and Greenpeace has worked hard to make sure those voices are heard. Our volunteers were tireless and committed, our goals were high, but we have just won a huge victory for the planet. Vermonters are tired of sitting in the shadow of this leaky old reactor and getting lied to and swindled by Entergy Louisiana.

The fight isn’t over. Entergy is a powerful corporation and has said they’re not done, and we aren’t either. Now we want to see the House show the same courage as the Senate and vote this session to retire Vermont Yankee. The vote yesterday was the first time a state legislative body has voted to retire a nuclear plant; we want the House to be the second.

This vote also sends a strong message to the nation and the world that the nuclear renaissance is dead on arrival. President Obama: Vermont knows that nuclear energy can’t be a part of our energy future. We need investments in renewable sources of energy to power our future and put people back to work. The US can follow Vermont’s leadership to the energy revolution America needs.

No Nukes (new or old)!

Jarred Cobb and John Deans
Vermont Organizers

John Deans

By John Deans

As a former Arctic Campaigner, John worked with lawmakers, coalition partners, activists, and the media in Greenpeace's efforts to protect the Arctic from the dangers of industrial activity.

We Need Your Voice. Join Us!

Want to learn more about tax-deductible giving, donating stock and estate planning?

Visit Greenpeace Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental issues through research, the media and educational programs.