Shumlin Defends Decision On Yankee Vote

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(Host) Senate president Peter Shumlin is defending his decision to hold a vote next week on the future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Critics charge that the Senate should wait until a number of investigations into the plant have been completed.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Unless there’s a major unexpected development, the Vermont Senate is set to debate the future of Vermont Yankee next Wednesday.

At this time, it’s likely that a majority of senators will vote against a bill to allow Vermont Yankee to renew its operating license for another 20 years.

Supporters of the plant say the issue is being rushed through the Senate and they point out that there are a number of outstanding investigations and studies still under review.

Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Rutland senator Peg Flory said it’s wrong to vote on Vermont Yankee at this time:

(Flory ) "To decide the fate of all of us in such a hasty process without knowing the answers to those questions is not responsible legislation."

(Kinzel) But Senate President Peter Shumlin said there good reasons for having a vote next week:

(Shumlin) "We need to plan for Vermont’s energy future and our businesses our taxpayers our ratepayers and the workers of Vermont Yankee deserve to know whether we’re going to retire the plant on schedule in 2012."

(Kinzel) President Obama is encouraging the development of new nuclear power plants around the country including two proposed plants in Georgia.  

If Vermont Yankee is shut down, Flory would like to see a new nuclear plant built in Vermont:

(Flory) "I would absolutely support it there has been a resolution that I’ve signed onto asking us to do exactly that remember when Yankee was built it was permitted for two plants they built one."

(Kinzel) But Shumlin says he would strongly oppose the idea:

(Shumlin) "I am very skeptical that you’ll ever see new nuclear power plants built in America let alone Vermont and I think in order to create jobs get our economy moving there’s going to be a huge boom with jobs as we move to renewable energy that Vermont should focus on what is real what we can actually achieve and nuclear power isn’t one of them."

(Kinzel) The vote next week is not necessarily the final decision concerning the future of Vermont Yankee.

It’s possible that the 2011 Legislature could review this issue if circumstances surrounding the state’s energy future change dramatically in the next 12 months.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.


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