Thursday, October 14, 2010

Taking It Personal. Shumlin Accuses Dubie of Serving the Interests of "Entergy Louisiana"

The link below shows part of a debate between the two gubernatorial candidates in Vermont: Lt. Governor Brian Dubie and Senator Peter Shumlin. The energy section of the debate starts when reporter Terri Hallenbeck of the Burlington Free Press says "turning now to the environment." (Note, I have not been able to embed the video successfully, as you can see by the comments on this post. Therefore, I am providing a link.)

Link to the video here.

This is what passes for political discourse in Vermont, with one of the ugliest campaigns I have ever seen. If Shumlin were just getting nasty with Dubie, it would be too bad, but it wouldn't be much of a subject for a blog called "Yes Vermont Yankee." However, Shumlin is running against Vermont Yankee as much as he is running against Dubie. If you listen to the clip, you will hear Dubie respond to Shumlin's accusation that Dubie is most concerned about the "shareholders of Entergy Louisiana"

(Dubie) "I don't work for the shareholders. I resent you questioning my integrity. I take it personal. I'm a lieutenant governor who's served my state. I'll continue to serve my state. Please refrain from questioning my integrity, senator, and I won't question yours."
(Shumlin) "My experience with both you and the governor is that you are an apologist for Entergy Louisiana stockholders and Entergy Louisiana and you won't stand up for Vermonters."

Transcript from Vermont Public Radio.

A few minutes after this insulting exchange, Shumlin says that Entergy Louisiana doesn't want to sell power to Vermont anyway!

Shumlin is on the attack partially because 1000 picocuries per liter tritium was found in one drinking water well on the plant site. This is 1/20th of the EPA limit for tritium in drinking water. When I discuss 1000 (as opposed to 20,000) picocuries per liter, I can't really use bananas as an analogy anymore. 1/400 part of a banana? This is not easy to visualize. I may have to move on to comparisons with potatoes, a less potent source of dietary potassium and beta radiation. Beta irradiation from mashed potatoes kind of matches the level of radiation from drinking the water in this well.

Oh yeah. Did I mention? The well is on the plant site, and has been closed as a precautionary measure for months. Nobody drinks the water.

In his post at ANS Nuclear Cafe this week, Howard Shaffer has a concise summary of the differences between the two candidates.
  • Lt. Governor Dubie thinks that regulatory agencies should be allowed to regulate.
  • Senator Shumlin wants to take over the regulatory roles himself.
Howard also some quotes from Shumlin. For example: The NRC is a wholly owned subsidiary of the industry.

Out of State is Evil?

One of Shumlin's tricks is to constantly describe the plant as "Entergy Louisiana" as if it were not located in Vermont at all. This is a deliberate policy. As I noted in May, Shumlin issued a press release addressed to Entergy Louisiana, on the subject of a photographer visiting the plant during an outage. Some TV anchors have picked these words up, and are now referring to Vermont Yankee as Entergy Louisiana.

This is so weird and naive. What kind of yokels does Shumlin think we are, here in Vermont? What on earth is wrong with a plant being owned by a Louisiana company?

When I lived in California, most of the big companies I worked for were "Delaware Corporations." Meanwhile, my husband worked for a startup, a nice little homegrown place. The startup was sold and went through a series of owners, including Sony (Japan) and TeleAtlas (Holland and Belgium). The layoffs at each merger were certainly subjects for discussion. The fact that the new owners were out-of-state (or out-of-country) was not considered as important.

Letter to the Editor

We are not hayseeds up here, Mr. Shumlin! We are willing to work for out-of-state companies!

I just wrote a letter to the editor of my local paper. It may be printed soon. But you have read it here first.
Senator Shumlin says that "Entergy Louisiana" and its "stockholders" are a major source of evil in Vermont. He accuses Lt. Governor Dubie of being in league with these out-of-staters. Senator Shumlin has said "Entergy Louisiana" so often that TV commentators are beginning to refer to the company the same way.

I find Senator Shumlin's statements quite bizarre. Many Vermont employers are owned by bigger companies from out of state. Will we begin scornfully saying "IBM New York" or "Energizer Missouri" or (heaven help us) "Ben and Jerry's Rotterdam" ? After all, Ben and Jerry's is part of Unilever, a Dutch-British food conglomerate.

Most states actively recruit national or multinational companies to open branches and factories. Right now, Governor Douglas is headed to China to encourage Chinese investment and tourism in Vermont. Except for Senator Shumlin, I have never heard of a politician who choses to attack a company as undesirable because its headquarters are out of state. This attitude does not bode well for jobs in Vermont if he becomes governor.

For Sticklers About Facts

Entergy Louisiana is a real company, which has nothing to do with Vermont Yankee. It is a utility serving Louisiana. Entergy Nuclear owns Vermont Yankee. Both are owned by Entergy itself. Why Shumlin would accuse anyone of being an apologist for Entergy Louisiana stockholders is unclear.

Not that this matters to Shumlin, who has never needed a fact-checker. He just makes them up as he goes along.
Need a fact to bolster an anti-Vermont Yankee argument? Shumlin has one! Of course, it isn't a fact. It's a fantasy.


Martin Langeveld said...

That video clip doesn't work for me.

Meredith Angwin said...


Sorry! Something happened between last night and today. The Free Press must have taken it down.

I will try to get another clip of the debate, but I have to leave for New York City, so I guess I will be leaving this dead link till late today or tomorrow morning. Darn it! Many thanks for pointing it out!

Meredith Angwin said...

I'll try again tomorrow on the video. Right now, this link supposedly leads to a video of the VY part of the debate, but it said: not available, try again later.

Warren Crocker Herrick said...

Shumlin continued to refer to Entergy Louisiana in tonight's debate on WPTZ.