Tag Archives: Vermont Yankee

Another batch of lies from the Koch factory

The black sheep of Vermont’s journalism family, Vermont Watchdog, took a short break from its incessant anti-renewable campaign and pooped out a single-source article alleging that Vermont is a fiscal disaster.

A new report from a government accounting watchdog group finds that Vermont has a debt of $3.9 billion, despite claims of having a balanced budget.

The Financial State of the States 2015 report, released this month by Chicago-based Truth in Accounting, debunks the myth that states balance their budgets.

Okay, first of all, any “accounting” group that doesn’t know the difference between a balanced budget and long-term indebtedness ought to be drummed out of the bean-counter fraternity. Every large entity, government or private sector, carries a certain amount of debt on its books. Routine.

So, who are these incompetent clowns at “Truth in Accounting”?

Three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

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Galbraith’s strange bedfellow

The self-described progressive choice for Governor, Peter Galbraith, took a trip inside the Beltway Monday night to attend a megadollar fundraiser for his gubernatorial campaign.

As reported by Seven Days’ Paul Heintz, the top ticket price for the fete was $4,000, although you could get your foot in the door for a measly $250.

The mere fact of a DC fundraiser doesn’t bother me overmuch, although (as Heintz pointed out) it’s a bit ironic for a guy who’s made such a stink about the excessive influence of money in politics. He claims the mantle of Bernie Sanders, but he’s fundraising like Jeb Bush. Still, you’ve got to play the game by the rules as they stand, even if you’d like to see them changed. And I’m sure Galbraith has plenty of generous friends in our nation’s capital.

No, something else stood out for me.

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Yankee no longer produces power, but it’s still cranking out bad PR

If anyone needed a reminder why Entergy wore out its welcome in Vermont, well, we just got another one. The corporation has decided to outsource Vermont Yankee’s security four years earlier than planned, in a move expected to save “millions of dollars.”

But that’s not the “bad PR” part of the story. No, it was the way Entergy phrased the announcement. Take it away, Vermont Yankee Security Manager Patrick Ryan:

“… it is important to reinforce that one of our top priorities continues to be the safety and security of our facility.”

Okay… wait.

One of our top priorities”?

The chief of security says that security is “one of” their top priorities. How reassuring.

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Acceptable taint

The good people of Vernon have taken it in the shorts since the closing of Vermont Yankee. Actually, they’ve just begun to take it in the shorts. VTDigger’s Son of the South Mike Faher:

Vernon, like all of Windham County, still is in the early phases of grappling with the economic blow of Vermont Yankee’s shutdown. The workforce has been cut roughly in half since the plant stopped producing power Dec. 29, and more job losses are scheduled for 2016.

But, Faher reports, relief may be on the way — in the form of a proposed natural gas-fired power plant. Such a facility would take advantage of the robust electrical infrastructure that used to carry VY’s power far and wide. It wouldn’t provide as many jobs as the old nuke, but it would do much to soften the blow.

It’s all very tentative at this point. Such a plant would need a supply of natural gas, and right now it isn’t anywhere near a pipeline. However, there is a proposed pipeline that would run through northern Massachusetts a mere seven miles away from Vernon. Short spur pipeline northward, and voila — plenty of gas for a power plant.

I’m sure there will be plenty of opposition from the enviro community — FRACKED GAS, OMG OMG — although perhaps not as vociferous as in the case of the Vermont Gas Company pipeline through the Champlain Valley. But it brings to mind an interesting thought exercise: Is there an acceptable level of fracked-gas taint?

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The Brock campaign’s nuclear connections — UPDATED

Last week, Randy Brock kinda re-introduced his bid for lieutenant governor at the same news conferece where a bunch of Republicans threw their lot in with Marco Rubio, the presidential candidate last seen telling dick jokes about Donald Trump.

Mm-hmm, presidential.

Brock made headlines by claiming he knows how to boost state tax revenue by $100 million, and I’ll be writing more about that in the near future. But he also showcased his campaign team. And the media coverage was notable for what it didn’t say.

VTDigger identified campaign manager Brad Ferland in passing, without specifying his credentials. The Vermont Press Bureau named Ferland* (listing his day job as deputy commissioner of the state Department of Finance and Management) and two others: Brent Burns, credentials unspecified; and Guy Page, identified as “field director for VT Watchdog.”

*UPDATE: The VPB was in error. There are two Brad Ferlands. The one who works for the state is not connected with the Brock campaign in any way. 

The latter is interesting enough; VT Watchdog is the Green Mountain outpost of the national Watchdog network, which is funded by far-right wealthy donors in the Koch brothers orbit.

But what’s even more interesting about Page and Ferland is what wasn’t reported: both are on the payroll of the Vermont Energy Partnership. For those unfamiliar, this bland-sounding organization is basically a sounding board for corporate energy interests in Vermont. As Green Mountain Daily put it:

The Vermont Energy Partnership was founded by [some] of the most powerful corporations, few from Windham County, including IBM, Casella Waste Management, and Pizzagalli Construction, plus business associations like the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association. And, of course, Entergy.

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Giving the name “Deadpool” a whole new meaning

House Speaker Shap Smith did something unusual this week: he put out a strongly-worded position statement on an issue not currently before the Legislature. More on that in a moment, but first, feast your eyes on this all-kinds-of-wrong picture.

Family fun for everyone!

Family fun for everyone!

That, my friends, is how they’re storing radioactive water at Vermont Yankee, as reported last week by VTDigger’s Mike Faher. That pool, seemingly stretched to the bursting point, is an Intex “Easy Set” swimming pool, advertised as one of “the easiest family and friend-sized pools to set up in the world.”

Yikes.

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I think Dick Mazza’s just trolling us now

Well, the State Senate’s #1 Untouchable, Dick Mazza, is at it again.

This time, the alleged Democrat has co-written an opinion piece (published a few days ago in the Bennington Banner) with Republican Peg Flory and alleged Democrat Bobby Starr, slamming the Shumlin administration for, uhh, seeking the shutdown of Vermont Yankee.

To be more precise, the three solons accuse Shumlin of rank hypocrisy for wanting to close Vermont Yankee and now seeking divestment from coal stocks. Because Vermont Yankee was renewable energy, see?

Yeah.

The essay includes plenty of harsh rhetoric you might expect from the outer precincts of the VTGOP. (Tougher than Phil Scott, certainly.) Here’s a sample:

Recent issuances from Vermont’s government have overridden fiduciary responsibility and due process in favor of special interest campaigns and political gestures.

Right out of the Republican playbook, no? And then, this:

The eventual, unfortunate decision to close Vermont Yankee has now increased the state’s carbon footprint, as Vermont uses more fossil fuels for energy generation. State government officials at the time called the loss of high paying jobs and expanded tax base “hard news,” as if nothing could have been done to prevent the closure and its consequences.

Again, chapter and verse from the VTGOP: pinning the blame on Shumlin and ignoring the fact that it was Vermont Yankee’s owner that pulled the plug. For all of the Governor’s posturing, Entergy was winning the court battle over VY’s future when it decided, purely on financial grounds, to close down the plant on schedule.

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