The real reason

Editor of the Reformer:

Entergy officials say they decided to close Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant because of the low price of natural gas. If that’s true, why is the company continuing to run its five other nuclear power plants, including Pilgrim near Boston and Indian Point in New York? The real reason Yankee is closing is because of the thousands of ordinary people who saw through Entergy’s lies ("nuclear power is safe, clean, reliable -- it doesn’t cause climate change") and volunteered countless hours to attend marches and rallies, to get arrested for non-violent civil disobedience, to speak out at public hearings, and to go door-to-door to tell their neighbors the truth.

Protests preceded the permanent shutdown of Shoreham, Yankee Atomic, Millstone I, Rancho Seco, Maine Yankee and more than a dozen other nuclear power plants in the U.S. When he was president, Richard Nixon said the nation’s goal was to have 1,000 nuclear power plants by the year 2000. There are now 60 nuclear power plants in the United States. An article in the June 2007 issue of the Journal of American History did not hesitate to give protesters credit for the decline of the nuclear power industry: "The protesters lost their battle (when Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant opened in 1984), but in a sense they won the larger war, for nuclear plant construction ended across the country in 1986."

Sadly, when it closes Vermont Yankee will be no safer than it is today -- until the plant is dismantled and its 600 or so tons of nuclear waste is transferred to so-called "dry cask storage," with the casks surrounded by earthen berms. Entergy wants to wait 60 years -- by which time the company will likely no longer exist to pay for the clean up -- before dismantling Yankee. I trust the organizers of the anti-nuke rallies of recent years, Deb Katz of NukeBusters.org and Brattleboro’s own Bob Bady among others, will continue their important work.

Eesha Williams,

Dummerston, Sept. 16

How to further wreck the economy

Editor of the Reformer:

Gov. Peter Shumlin has now confirmed what everybody in Montpelier pretty much already knew. He will attempt to finance Green Mountain Care by a huge increase in the payroll tax. ln 2005, Dr. Kenneth Thorpe, hired by the Legislature to present a single payer financing plan, lobbied for the payroll tax. So did Dr, William Hsiao, hired in 2010. The state paid UMass $300,000 after that to explain that the payroll tax would likely be a major part of GMC financing. In recent news reports, Gov. Peter Shumlin said increases in the payroll tax will "play a major role" in the public financing system he wants to use to fund single-payer health care.

Shumlin said his administration will have to figure out how to avoid the kind of economic disruption that would inevitably accompany a sudden increase in the surcharge on wages. He pointed out that the payroll tax will be in place of premiums already paid by many businesses. "And the question is how to ratchet in the folks that are paying nothing slowly enough so it doesn’t hurt their bottom line," Shumlin said.

Shumlin did not admit what UMass discovered -- that Green Mountain Care will require at least $1.6 billion in new taxes every year when Vermont’s entire 2013 General Fund budget was $1.3 billion. But he did say it was "fair enough" to say that "this will be the biggest tax increase in Vermont history." Shumlin fought successfully to put off a discussion of the enormous costs of Green Mountain Care until after the 2012 election. When the January 2013 deadline he favored came and went, he then said the public didn’t need to know the price tag until after the 2014 election.Now he has belatedly come clean about the tax he plans to have the Legislature force all businesses to pay to support his single payer obsession.

But it’s hard to imagine how $1.6 billion -- likely far more -- can be squeezed out of Vermont businesses with Shumlin’s whopping payroll tax. Without wrecking our economy that is.

Phil Savoy,

Westminster, Sept. 23 Ride the rails!

Editor of the Reformer:

Did you know you can ride the rails from Vermont downtown to Vermont downtown for $12 each way?

I recently took advantage of this incredible opportunity being offered by Amtrak via the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. I rode the train from Montpelier to Brattleboro on Saturday, Sept. 21. The ride was comfortable and relaxing. The train staff was friendly and entertaining. And oh -- the scenery. The view of the Cornish-Windsor covered bridge is amazing.

We arrived in downtown Brattleboro in perfect time for lunch and a full afternoon of some great shopping and dining. The train left at 5:10 p.m. and we were back in Montpelier by 8 p.m. Believe me, on my next trip -- and there will be a next trip -- I plan to stay overnight.

Like so many Vermont downtowns, Brattleboro offers a unique way to enjoy and get a true feel for our diverse and unique state. Many of the downtowns along the train route offer packages that include lodging and rental cars. Northbound or southbound, the Amtrak experience is a fun way to see Vermont and a very relaxing and inexpensive way to get from point A to point B.

Details can be found on www.VermontVacation.com/vtbyrail.

I can’t say enough about this great deal and the wonderful experience of spending time in a great Vermont downtown. Thank you, Brattleboro, for a great afternoon. All aboard!

Brenda J. Greika,

Montpelier, Sept. 24