In his remarks during last week’s Senate floor debate on Entergy/Vermont Yankee, Senate President Peter Shumlin gave five reasons why he would cast a ‘nay’ vote on relicensure: power price; tritium clean-up; corporate responsibility; liability; and trust. And then he appealed to his colleagues “to have courage to move onto the next generation of energy creation.” Well, courage is in the eye of the beholder.
Moving onto the next gen of energy is not courageous, it’s common sense, or “a no-brainer” to use Senator Bartlett’s words, and is something that Vermont’s energy utilities (including many Roundtable members) have been doing for awhile now as they plan for an incremental shift away from heavy reliance on nuclear power. What does require courage is this: staring into the head wall of a media tsunami and urging restraint where no restraint exists; calling for patience while waiting for information that doesn’t come fast enough; acknowledging that we don’t know enough at this time to make such a critical decision as closure; and, standing with an important corporate citizen that admits it has, more times than not, been its own worst enemy. This is what the Douglas Administration and many business and labor leaders, including the Roundtable, have been doing.
Religious crusades and wars require courage. Resolving crises of public confidence and environmental degradation do not. They require steadfast leadership; clear and unambiguous communication; and swift, rational decision-making that is benefitted by credible information.