|Howard Shaffer and Meredith Angwin|
receive Presidential Citation Awards from
ANS Nuclear Society President Eric Loewen
On Monday, June 25, Howard Shaffer and I received Presidential Citation Awards from the American Nuclear Society President, Eric Loewen.
Howard's plaque says:
For tireless efforts to provide accurate and credible nuclear energy information to the citizens of Vermont during the contentious re-licensing period for Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. Howard’s dedication to furthering public understanding and dispelling fear and uncertainty with facts, through a variety of forums, correctly focused the public debate about nuclear energy. He has inspired ANS members and other nuclear advocates across the country.
My plaque says:
For providing rational, reliable, and unbiased information about nuclear energy to the citizens of Vermont during the contentious re-licensing period for Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. By establishing the Energy Education Project, Meredith nourished a grassroots organization that changed the public debate about nuclear energy, lending a credible voice and a helping hand to ANS members and other nuclear advocates well beyond the borders of Vermont.
How do we feel about it?
Well, you can see us grinning in the picture above! It was a wonderful thing to be honored this way, We have both worked hard to support nuclear energy in general and Vermont Yankee in particular. It felt amazing to have our work honored at this meeting, and to have people congratulating us in the hallways, at the lunch tables, and so forth. You can read the ANS Nuclear Cafe blog post about us here.
Other people also received honors and awards, and some were made Fellows of the American Nuclear Society. You can see their pictures, and read links to their stories, at this Honors and Awards post at ANS Nuclear Cafe.
What did we learn?
The main thing, for me, was learning we are not alone. I had many conversations with other people who are also working hard to dispel the fear, uncertainty and doubt surrounding nuclear power. I realized that building a community of nuclear supporters is the true aim.
I remember when I started my own efforts, and someone asked me "what do you hope to accomplish?" They asked rather aggressively, and I don't know what they expected my answer to be. I said I wanted make it possible for people support nuclear power--and feel safe about saying they support it.
The importance of community
Some people advocate raising school taxes and others disagree. Both sides feel fine about expressing their views in public forums. Both sides know that plenty of people disagree with them, but they also know that most people are going to keep it civil, and those who don't keep it civil will not be supported in their rudeness.
In contrast, people supporting nuclear power in Vermont are likely to feel intimidated by the opposition. Opponents shout at meetings. They drive NRC officials out of the room or throw manure in their water glasses. There was arson at Vermont Yankee's office building. (The office building is not on the plant site.) The people who do these things are applauded by the other opponents.
In my opinion, one of the reasons that the opponents can get away with this type of action is that so few supporters bother to show up at hearings and so forth. If there were more of us at the meetings, less intimidation would be possible
As I learned at the ANS meeting, pro-nuclear people are beginning to show up. This is happening all over the country. Nuclear supporters are beginning to form communities. Mutual support and community among people in favor of nuclear power is essential. In my opinion, it is happening.