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Nuclear Safety, Economics Linked

To the Editor:

In her Feb. 10 Sunday Valley News Perspectives piece, “Lawyers Can’t Rescue a Weak Case,” Meredith Angwin concludes that Vermont is likely to lose its case against Entergy because she thinks the state was not truly concerned with economic issues involving Vermont Yankee, but instead with safety, which is defined as a federal concern. This seems to me a distinction without a difference. In any system, especially in complex systems, and much more so in complex systems with a potential for widespread and long-lived safety and economic impacts, safety and economics are inextricably linked. Safety and economics are two sides of the same coin.

Is it possible that the law regarding regulation of nuclear power was designed to present the illusion of their separability in an attempt to eliminate the possibility of legal challenge by states and local communities?

Nuclear power sites remain radioactively contaminated when closed, requiring millions of dollars to render them safe. But far more costly than site restoration is safeguarding (for 8,000 future human generations) the thousands of pounds of high-level radioactive waste produced during the relatively short 40- to 60-year life (one or two generations) of a plant’s energy production.

Not only is it right that Vermont should be concerned about the future cost of Vermont Yankee’s shutdown, its continued generation of nuclear waste and the waste’s eventual safekeeping — it would be insane if it weren’t. This is especially true for a plant like Vermont Yankee plagued with a history of inept management, an admittedly faulty design, a history of lying to state officials about the existence of leaking underground pipes, maintenance failures and structural failures in the secondary cooling system.

Although the Nuclear Regulatory Commission claims it has us covered, it doesn’t. Insurance is capped at a small fraction of the costs of a catastrophic accident. And who knows the future of waste storage? Whether waste storage costs end up as a federal or state responsibility, citizens will be the ultimate payers — without choice. Taxation without representation — for 240,000 years! Incredible!

Charles McKenna

Wilder

Protecting Women From Violence

To the Editor:

The Senate has voted by a large margin in favor of the Violence Against Women Act. However, there seem to be a few Republicans who can prevent the House from passing the bill. It is hard to capture just how important this bill is for all women, but particularly so for Native American women.

According to an article by Jonathan Weisman in the Feb. 11 New York Times, Native American women are powerless on their own reservations to find protection against white men. The article tells the story of a native woman who suffered beatings from her white husband, but the Southern Ute Tribal Police could not touch him, nor could the La Plata County sheriff’s deputies. Federal law enforcement, which does have jurisdiction, was hundreds of miles away and provided no help. The abusive man was free to continue; in fact, he called the country sheriff to prove to his wife that he could not be stopped. He was so violent that he opened fire and wounded an employee of the Bureau of Land Management.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said that Native American women are two and a half times more likely to be raped, that one in three will be assaulted, and three out of five face domestic violence. This strikes me as another example of racism. How sad. This bill would at long last allow Native American police and courts to pursue non-Indians who attack women on tribal land.

Can these few people in the House really not understand the pathetic situation of our American sisters? Can they not understand that many other women in our country have this terrible problem also? It appears that Rep. Eric Cantor, House majority leader, is going to try to explain this to unwilling House members.

It is easy to call Cantor’s office, easy to spread the message through Facebook and easy to call our representatives. We all need help against these few people. Please do try.

Rose Miller

Hanover

A Home Weatherization Challenge

To the Editor:

Volunteers from 12 Upper Valley communities are encouraging neighbors to weatherize their homes as part of the statewide Vermont Home Energy Challenge. Each town has a goal of weatherizing 3 percent of its homes this year. The town that weatherizes the highest percentage of homes will win $10,000 from Efficiency Vermont to be used toward a municipal energy-saving project.

To promote this effort, Efficiency Vermont is offering a $100 discount on all home energy assessments and audits this year — a necessary first step in the home weatherization process. In addition, 18 auditor contractors are providing an additional $50 discount off home energy audits to homeowners from towns participating in the challenge — Bradford, Fairlee, Hartland, Norwich, Randolph, Sharon, Strafford, Thetford, Topsham, Tunbridge, Weathersfield and Woodstock.

You can track your town’s progress toward its goal and contact those coordinating efforts in your town so you can learn more about home energy savings or volunteer to help at www.efficiencyvermont.com/homeenergychallenge. You can find the list of contractors offering $50 discounts at www.SERG-info.org .

Finally, the community action agencies serving the Upper Valley, SEVCA and CVCAC, have received extra funding to provide free home energy audits and weatherization services to income-qualifying Vermonters who live in towns formerly served by CVPS.

So don’t wait any longer to make your home more comfortable, save money on home heating bills and protect the environment by making your home more energy efficient. For more information on any of these programs, email serg@serg-info.org or call 802-785-4126.

Bob Walker

Director, Sustainable Energy Resource Group

Thetford Center