Dems see closure of Vermont nuclear plant as chance to develop green options

"Now is the time for Vermonters to refocus our attention on increasing our energy efficiency and bringing online alternative clean and renewable energy sources," he said Tuesday. "This is added impetus for offsetting as much of Vermont Yankee's capacity as possible through those better, cleaner and sustainable alternatives."

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Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said closing the plant shows that non-nuclear options are not only safer, but more affordable.

"Closing Vermont Yankee reflects the growing realization in New England and around the nation that it is time to move towards a safer, more affordable clean energy future of wind, solar, geothermal, along with well-regulated, domestic natural gas," he said. "While nuclear energy was once advertised as being too cheap to meter, it is increasingly clear that it is actually too expensive to matter."

But while they welcomed the decision to close the plant, which will happen by 2014, Democrats said the state must ensure the plant is closed safely.

"Every precaution must be taken to insure public and worker safety during the decommissioning, and to insure that we do not leave a public safety nightmare for future generations of Vermonters," Leahy said. He added that the full cost of decommissioning the plant should be paid for by the owners, not the state or federal governments.

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Vermont's only Representative in the House, agreed with the need for steps to ensure the plant is closed safely and added that he would work to ensure Vermont Yankee employees are able to find work.

"I will work closely with the governor and the state's delegation to ensure the safe and swift dismantling of the plant and secure the economic vitality of the Windham County region," he said.