So we can point to both Vermont and Wisconsin to help us wake up here in the grand old U.S.A where, so far, we’ve proved rather sluggish, preferring to watch and judge the unbridled arrogance and greed of corporations and the adolescent tomfoolery and chicanery of our elected reps rather than, let’s face it! — taking charge of our collective destiny.
Or, maybe not. Maybe we are taking charge, centering ourselves internally while focusing on our own local areas — growing food, swapping, caring, creating co-ops, networks, giving, receiving, listening to our elders, our children, our dreams, our inner guides, re-learning the old skills, doing ceremony — and otherwise expressing our unique selves altogether in community.
Yes, despite all the doom and gloom. We are playing, playing! Can you imagine?
The Vermont legislature clearly understood that they could only act on questions about the reactor’s reliability and future costs to the state when they acted to prevent Entergy from getting a certificate of public good from the Public Service Board. Campaign statements about the safety of VY, a legitimate concern considering the lies and leaks at VY, not to mention the nuclear catastrophe currently underway in Japan, have no bearing on the case deciding whether the legislature acted within the parameters allowed it by federal law.
Entergy never thought that it would come to this. They are used to Louisiana, where the legislature is in the pocket of big energy, and the governor has to go along to get along. What a surprise for them to discover a citizen legislature that knows how to ask questions and is unwilling to countenance false testimony. Even worse, the state elected a governor that would reverse the policy of working in Entergy’s interest and instead work to protect the people of Vermont from corporate abuse.
Smugly, Entergy CEO Jackie Wayne Leonard has dismissed our state and its laws calling upon his army of lawyers and public relation firms to turn reality on its head and turn a dangerous boondoggle into a green dream. Since it is no longer in the hands of the Vermont government, he need not concern himself with us any longer.
He is in for another big surprise. Vermont has a history of standing up for itself when dealing directly with threats to our collective well being, whether they come from insidious cankers like slavery, or from misdirected, over-reaching central government power. In 1775, when the British Crown, as represented by the New York courts, was about to nullify the legitimacy of Vermont properties acquired thorough New Hampshire land grants, Vermonters from Westminster occupied the courthouse to ensure that the hearing could not be held. The Crown’s sheriff gathered a posse and attacked the courthouse, capturing and jailing those inside while wounding several and killing one. The Crown had spoken, there would be no more insubordination from the rabble in Westminster. But the rabble responded, and within a few short days, 400 men had rallied to free the prisoners, the sheriff and his posse were now in jail, and the New York court would again never be held in Westminster. This was the first blood shed of the American revolution, and it led directly to Vermont becoming not only free of New York domination, but also to the formation of the Vermont Republic which lasted until we joined the United States in 1791.
In 1968, Vermont outlawed billboards. Some advertisers thought that they could ignore the ban, but on the the first morning that it went into effect, virtually all of the billboards still standing found themselves chainsawed and chopped into oblivion. We take our civics and our rights very seriously in this state, and we are no more ready to stand idly by and suffer J. Wayne and Entergy’s depredations than our Westminster predecessors were to suffer at the hand of the Crown and New York.
While we may have been among the first Americans to rise up and stand for our rights, we also recognize when others are taking the lead. Vermonters in 2011 have been encouraged and inspired by people across the globe standing up for their rights and peacefully toppling corrupt and militaristic governments. We have learned how non-violent protest writ large can rekindle a collective consciousness in a seemingly slumbering populace, leading to revolutionary change. And we are building that consciousness now, in order to stand up for ourselves if the courts decide to abrogate Vermont law.
What J. Wayne doesn’t understand is that we will see to it that Vermont Yankee closes on March 21, 2012, just as it has been scheduled to do in its operating license. By next March, we will know how many people will be needed to prevent the plant from continuing operation, and we will have recruited sufficient numbers of volunteers to maintain a prophylactic presence around the plant for as many days, weeks or months as it takes for them to finally pull the plug.
This will not be a symbolic effort by the state’s environmentalists. This is a struggle that will be supported by Vermonters of all stripes, as it is about much more than question of why we would run a leaky reactor for twenty more years in order to generate hundreds of tons more of radioactive waste that cannot be made safe for tens of thousands of years. No, this is also a struggle where common sense folk are saying no to insatiable corporate greed and to federal government overreach. This is a struggle where informed Vermonters are asking why so many other industrialized countries are re-thinking or ending their nuclear power programs, while our officials blithely plow forward, hand in hand with their corporate sponsors, intoning a mantra of wishful thinking passed off as official wisdom. This is a struggle where Vermont tea party and progressive types will work hand in hand to rid ourselves of the scourge of parasites like Entergy in order to get to the job of living together and building a sensible future for our state. This will be a defense of our state’s sovereignty and our own safety unlike any that has been seen in this country in decades.
We have acted together as a state in a legal and responsible manner. Our Vermont politicians have done their job. The governor and the attorney general are still working for us, but we will be there to do what they cannot if we are betrayed by the federal courts. There will be a reckoning, and just as happened in Westminster in 1775, the people will prevail.
Dan Dewalt is a musician/woodworker/teacher who authored the Newfane impeachment resolution passed at March 2006 town meetings.