What A Win It Was! The Vote Against Vermont Yankee Last Week
Faculty Member Abigail Abrash Walton
Many of the advocacy students and I spent last Wednesday's snow day watching, listening to, and analyzing (via our online chat feature) the Vermont State Senate's discussion and debate of Senate bill S-289 to approve or disapprove the extension of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant's license to operate for another 20 years. (What a great live, online learning experience!)
The vote was 26 against 4 to close the leaking and decaying plant in 2012 when its license expires. Vermont is the only state legislature in the country that has reserved the right to authorize or deny any extensions to a nuke plant's original license.
There's a long history of advocacy on this issue, and a number of our Antioch students have been involved in shutting down Vermont Yankee, including Peter Alexander (ES EAO '04), who served as ED of New England Coalition, one of the three leading groups that has campaigned for closure of the plant. Today's 4.5-hour-long Senate process was both a terrific live case study of legislative advocacy in action, as well as an excellent look at the democratic legislative process at work.
For those of us who understand that progressive change typically comes from the bottom up, this excerpt from a first-hand report by ES EAO alumna Carrie Abels ('06), who was at the Statehouse for the debate and vote, was welcome confirmation that what we teach in the advocacy & organizing program here at Antioch is both relevant and effective:
At the lunch break, I ran into Sen. Peter Shumlin as he was walking alone outside the Statehouse. I thanked him for actually having the guts to take a stand on something, given how Congress is operating these days. He said he couldn't do it without the kind of people in the gallery [[i.e., the hundred or so grassroots & professional advocates who braved the weather to be there in force for the decision]].
Our current students will welcome SIT professor Jeff Unsicker and long-time close VY campaign advocate to our Advocacy Clinic class next Friday morning for a debrief and discussion of next steps in the Vermont Yankee campaign.