45 towns debate Vermont Yankee resolution

03/03/09 6:31PM By John Dillon

(Host) Along with road budgets and school spending, voters in about 45 towns considered Vermont's energy future at their annual meetings.

Voters debated a resolution that calls on the Legislature to reject Vermont Yankee's request to operate the nuclear power plant for another 20 years after its license expires in 2012.

The resolution also calls for Yankee's parent company, the Entergy Corporation, to set aside enough money to dismantle the plant.

The measure passed overwhelmingly on a voice vote in the Washington County Town of Calais - but not before a spirited debate about nuclear power.

Cynthia Johnson said the Calais vote could influence the Legislature as it decides Yankee's future.

(Johnson) ``This is a historic vote, coming before our Legislature. No other Legislature in the history of our country has had this ability to have a say-so to shut down a nuclear reactor.''

(Host) But resident Conrad Smith spoke against the resolution.

Smith said he has visited the Yankee plant, and saw workers who were dedicated to safety.

(Smith) ``I'm not saying that it's risk free, it certainly isn't although I have to say I've been inside this plant and I have to admit I was pretty skeptical spending the hours I was in there. But it has a culture of safety more than I've seen any place else in my life. It's just one personal observation from one place, but I can tell you I was impressed.

(Host) Smith said nuclear energy has a much lighter carbon footprint than many other energy sources. But other voters said Vermont and the nation need to invest more in renewable energy sources.

After about 20 minutes of discussion, the debate ended and Town moderator Gus Seelig asked for a vote.

(Seelig) ``All those in favor of this article, please say aye.''

(Host) Organizers of the Yankee resolution are tallying results from other towns. They say they know of one town where the resolution was voted down. Voters in Bolton rejected the measure by three votes.


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