Vermont has elected a governor pledged to make the state truly green by shutting its decrepit, leaking nuclear plant. And the town closest to that reactor has voted to take it by eminent domain if necessary, a step unprecedented in world history.
In reaction, the plant's owner (Entergy) has turned tail and put it up for sale. (So far, no bidders). Sale prospects were not helped when Yankee and Indian Point, two other Entergy plants, were both forced shut by emergencies within a single hour.
The emergency shutdowns were fitting exclamation points for a post-election week marked by radioactive demands for massive government loan guarantees from "free market" Congressional Republicans. Armed with oceans of unaccountable corporate/billionaire cash, Karl Rove's new nuclear GOP wants to dump Adam Smith and pump public billions into a failed industry that cannot compete.
But in Vermont, the election day story was different. Democrat Peter Shumlin was elected governor. As President of the Vermont Senate, Shumlin led the charge to deny the state's sole reactor, Vermont Yankee, an extended operating license.
Thanks to complex, unique arrangements made during an earlier ownership transfer, Vermont has the power to deny Entergy a new permit. On February 24, the state senate voted to do just that.
No American state has successfully forced shut a nuclear plant. Yankee's owners, whoever they might be, are certain to go to court when the current license expires in March, 2012.
The nuclear industry poured huge chunks of cash into the Vermont election to defeat Shumlin and strip the legislature of its pro-green majority, but it failed. Shumlin will now be governor, and Vermont's lawmakers are firmly committed to shut-down.
Furthermore, the voters of Brattleboro, the largest city in Yankee's near vicinity, voted 2,387 to 1,826 in favor of forcing the state to investigate taking Vermont Yankee by eminent domain to guarantee its shut-down
But in Vermont, the election results have prompted energy to put the Vermont Yankee reactor up for sale.
"In holding a fire sale for its systemically mismanaged nuke, Entergy is trying to undermine the Vermont senate's overwhelming vote to close Vermont Yankee's in 2012," says Deb Katz of the Citizens Awareness Network. "Governor Shumlin was elected because of his courageous stand to close Vermont Yankee and replace it with a sane and sustainable energy policy. Exit polls found that over 14 percent of the electorate voted for Shumlin because of his stand on Vermont Yankee. Without those votes he would not be governor today."
With the Green Mountain State's newly elected pro-green governor and legislature, Yankee may be the first domino to fall in a chain of leaky, rickety, increasingly dangerous elder nukes. With them would go a serious premise of a nuclear future.