In May 2010, I wrote an article for this magazine about Vermont Yankee, the troubled nuclear power plant near that state’s southern border. Vermont’s Senate had just voted to block its license (the Nuclear Regulatory Commission renewed it anyway), and I wondered what this meant for New England. For good or ill, our region seemed to be resolutely ignoring the “nuclear renaissance” sweeping America.
Remember those heady days? Just three years ago, as citizens watched the Iraq War slog on and Deepwater Horizon spew oil into the Gulf of Mexico, public support for home-grown nuclear power climbed to a record high. In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama pledged to build a new generation of nuclear power plants, and later announced $8.33 billion in loan guarantees for two reactors in Georgia. The future of nuclear power in America seemed bathed in a golden glow.