Dear Senator Sanders,
Thank you very much for adding your voice to our call for the safe closure of Vermont Yankee. Your presence in Brattleboro on April 14, along with the Governor and Attorney General sent a clear message to the Federal government that Vermont citizens do not stand alone in this fight against corporate power that threatens our state sovereignty.
As a member of the Senate Energy Committee, you are in an unique position to exercise oversight and to demand accountability from the NRC. We urge you to take action now to exercise some of that power. While the Democrats still hold the leadership position in this committee, we ask you to initiate oversight hearings that ask hard questions of the NRC. As you alluded to in your speech, the NRC is acting more like a lapdog than a watchdog. Please make them explain to the Senate just how they can justify never saying no to a single license extension request. Make them defend their record against the the Associated Press claims that they have been weakening and not enforcing safety standards in order appease the industry and keep it running. Make them prove their claim that the spent fuel rod storage pool, six stories high and protected by sheet metal, would not be damaged by a tornado like the one that devastated Springfield MA just last year. If the committee process has been compromised past the point of effectiveness, then use the press and the bully pulpit of the Senate to put the spotlight on the NRC.
You mentioned the Price Anderson act, a corporate welfare scheme that makes a mockery of the free market system. You explained how under this act taxpayers are on the hook for potentially billions of dollars in cleanup costs should an accident occur at a nuclear power reactor. We ask you, and we will ask Congressman Peter Welch as well, to sponsor legislation to repeal Price Anderson and to let the market decide whether nuclear power is a good economic bet or not. Even if you are initially unsuccessful, this is a necessary first step in leveling the playing field for alternative energy solutions to be able to compete with government subsidized nuclear power. In the current climate of spending cuts and smaller government, you could make a strong case to curtail the government subsidies for nuclear power that you criticized in your speech, amounting to 95 billion dollars for research and development alone.
We understand that the U.S. Congress is influenced by the money and power of corporate lobbying, and that this will be a difficult struggle. But we know that you are not one to shy away from a fight when it is important to the state and our nation, and when it is the right thing to do. For decades, we have sent you to Washington as the voice of the people. This is a critical time for us to take back our power from the corporations. Vermonters are ready to work with you in unprecedented numbers in this particular fight against Entergy of Louisiana. With your leadership, we can win this battle in Vermont and set into motion a sea change that will eventually result in restoring sovereignty to the people of the United States. At the conclusion of the Constitutional convention of 1787, when asked what kind of government had been decided upon, Benjamin Franklin famously replied, “a Republic, if you can keep it”. We will keep it indeed, but we need your help and leadership at this moment in order to be able to do so.