Nancy Braus works with the Safe and Green Campaign.
Originally published in The Commons issue #147 (Wednesday, April 11, 2012).
On March 22, well over 1,000 citizens descended on the Brattleboro offices of the Entergy Corporation, owner and operator of Vermont Yankee. This event did not happen spontaneously — the planning involved was intense and long-term.
In the midst of this preparation, one of my colleagues mentioned an action being planned by a small group of anti-nuclear activists, most of whom were from New Hampshire. This group needed someone from Vermont to join them in New Orleans (NOLA) in a visit to Entergy’s corporate office tower.
I am not only a Vermonter, but I also live and work in the reactor’s emergency evacuation zone.
As committed as I was to participate in the Brattleboro event, it was clear that we needed to send a message to Entergy’s top management that we are willing to travel many miles to make our point: Vermont Yankee needs to close, and the sooner the better.
Forty years has taken its toll on a reactor design that had significant design flaws even at its inception. Entergy’s management in Louisiana made the decision to try to overturn the will of the people of Vermont in federal court.
And its management had the deep pockets to hire the priciest attorneys to fight Vermont, knowing that a small state like ours does not have the huge cash reserves of a corporation like Entergy.
On March 20, I boarded a plane for New Orleans, knowing only one of the group of eight. One group drove from New Hampshire; others flew. We met for the first time as a group and planned our action in a local church.
We met the amazing lawyers Bill Quigley and Davida Finger, who seem to be involved in every social justice and environmental law case in the area. We also met our few other local contacts.
We decided to call our group the New England Natural Guard.
* * *
On Thursday morning, at the same time as the crowd was descending on the Town Common in Brattleboro, we sailed up the escalator at the Entergy building. (The large neon sign on the outside of the building said ’ent rgy’; does the company not do maintenance?)
We were dressed in our best imitation of business attire. All four men wore suits, and the women — well ... we tried!
We entered the reception area, and Renny Cushing, who dreamed up the trip to New Orleans, confidently walked up to the receptionists to ask to see the company’s chief executive officer.
“Hello. We’re here to see J. Wayne Leonard."
“Do you have an appointment?"
“No, but he will want to see us when he hears that we have traveled from New England to discuss closing Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant with him.”
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