VOTE FOR VERMONT
GUESTS: MEREDITH ANGWIN, NUCLEAR ADVOCATE AND AUTHOR
TOPIC: STRATEGIES FOR PRO-NUCLEAR ADVOCACY
Pat McDonald and Ben Kinsley are co-hosts of the show “Vote for Vermont.” Joining them on a recent show was a repeat guest, Meredith Angwin, author and nuclear advocate.
Meredith introduced a video by Eric Meyers, who founded Generation Atomic and is a trained opera singer. Eric sings an aria he wrote called “Aria de Thorium”. Quite a different approach to advocacy. No marching, carrying signs or debate – just telling your story through opera!
Meredith has been an advocate for nuclear power for a long time. She has testified on behalf of Vermont Yankee at hearings in Montpelier and around the State, not as a lobbyist but as a private citizen during the public comment part of various hearings. We think we can all agree that nuclear power is not coming to Vermont any time soon. But Meredith is working hard to ensure that all currently operating nuclear power plants remain open. She explained there are 100 open plants in the US and approximately 400 worldwide. Meredith explained that she got involved in advocacy, after a long and distinguished career in energy, when she came to Vermont and realized that most people are not informed about nuclear energy and that there was much misunderstanding around nuclear and very few people knowledgeable about the topic. For example, most people may not know that currently in the U.S. 60% of low carbon energy comes from nuclear plants; 20% from hydro and 20% from a combination of wind solar and biomass.
Meredith has not kept up on the status of Vt. Yankee since its closing but she was able to talk about VT Yankee’s new owners wanting to use rubblization to fill the basement holes left from taking buildings down on site. Entergy said it was not going to use the rubble; but the new owners, Northstar decided they wanted to for several reasons, including limiting truck traffic around the local school which is across the street from the plant. People are worried that radioactive material might be included in the rubble, but that is the responsibility of the owners to verify no radioactive materials are included.
The conversation switched to Meredith’s book – Campaigning for Clean Air-Strategies for Pro-Nuclear Advocacy. She explain she wrote the book because people were asking her how to effectively advocate for nuclear energy. What is very special about this book is that while it is clearly about advocacy for nuclear power, it does provide solid advice for any advocacy effort, campaign, fundraisers, etc. She takes you through all steps from being a shy advocate all the way up to taking hold of a microphone and making your opinions known.
Meredith said that the top two topics which are critical to any advocacy effort (besides not getting arrested) is 1 - know your facts and be prepared to defend them, and 2 - stand up and be counted and always have a friend or two by your side.
She commented that there are several advocacy groups forming all over the nation. She feels that there is a renewed interest in nuclear because of concerns about climate change, the improvements in technology and the desire for clean air and low carbon emissions. The drawback with the modern plants are that the safety improvements are costly. There is hope that future advancements will not only be safer but also more economical.
One of those future developments will be the use of Thorium in nuclear power as our opera singer was mentioning in his aria. They are small modular reactors planned for use in public utilities in Utah which have many benefits particularly if they need to be shut down. Thorium is an abundant element and produces much less waste than Uranium or other nuclear fuels.
The comments reflected in this article are opinions stated by our guests. Any rebuttals are welcome and can be expressed on the websites and Facebook pages of VFV and CFV.
By Pat McDonald and Ben Kinsley