History of the Coalition
The People’s Advocate for Safe Energy for Four Decades
The New England Coalition has been the people’s advocate for safe energy since 1971. Originally the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution, the Coalition was founded by several groups of citizens and scientists concerned about the nation’s growing civilian nuclear power program. Our mission has not changed: we investigate the safety, suitability, and environmental effects of nuclear power plants; we participate in government hearings; and we inform the public and government agencies of the hazards and risks of nuclear power.
Today, in the face of the “nuclear renaissance,” the green washing of nuclear power as a response to climate change, the aging of our existing nuclear power plants and extension of their operations and storage capacity far beyond their design lifetimes, our mission is as urgent as it was forty years ago.
A combination of the NEC’s network of technical advisors, engineers, lawyers, students, activists and citizens, and the many years of experience and document collection, has earned the Coalition the respect of industry, government and citizens’ groups. We are fact based advocates who do our homework.
The Coalition has set many precedents, forcing the NRC and the nuclear industry to more thoroughly address the aging of nuclear reactors, federal oversight, and safety. The Coalition has intervenor status with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and participated as a full party in licensing proceedings for Seabrook, Vermont Yankee, the shut down of Rowe Yankee and two other plants now cancelled, and we have been continuously representing our members in legal interventions before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, the Vermont Public Service Board, and Vermont’s Environmental Court.
Seabrook is again on the Coalition’s agenda, as its owners applied for a license extension a full 30 years before the license is due to expire. With a coalition of groups, we have petitioned the NRC to change the minimum amount of time a plant can request renewal.
The Coalition has intervened before the NRC, Vermont Public Service Board, and in the Vermont Yankee sale, extended power up rate, on-site storage capacity for highly radioactive “spent” fuel (both in 1977 and 1987), dry cask storage, water discharge, the license extension of Vermont Yankee and related dockets. NEC testified before the Vermont Senate during hearings prior to the 26-4 Senate vote in February 2010 denying license renewal to Vermont Yankee. Our technical advisor’s report on the economic impact of Maine Yankee’s closing played a key role in bringing facts to the emotional discussion during the Senate’s historic vote.
Informing the Public
Members of New England’s Congressional delegation call upon the New England Coalition for unbiased, factual advice. The Coalition has testified before the Vermont State Senate, the Vermont House of Representatives, the New Hampshire Senate, the Massachusetts legislature, and through the media before the court of public opinion. We have worked alongside the Union of Concerned Scientists, Citizens Action Network, Friends of the Coast (Maine Yankee), Beyond Nuclear and many other citizens groups.
Beginning in 1989, the Coalition became actively involved in an educational effort concerning radioactive waste “disposal” in Vermont. The Coalition helped write Vermont’s Act 296, an innovative and precedent-setting radioactive waste disposal law, and has participated actively in rulemakings and all hearings, proceedings and workshops on the subject.
For decades before renewable energy was a popular issue, the Coalition has offered resources for public education. For example, “At Home with the Sun,” a solar energy book for young scientists, was published in 1995, and for many years we owned a ‘solar van” that taught schoolchildren about renewable energy. We maintain a speaker’s bureau and an extensive library of books and film. Our print newsletter of twenty years, “On the Watch,” has been replaced by email updates to members.
A detailed history of NEC in our first 25 years is here. This includes to some degree the history of nuclear power in New England.
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