Clowns Highlight Absurdity of Entergy’s Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant
by the Red Clover Climate Justice Collective
On Thursday, March 22nd in Brattleboro, Vermont, the Red Clover Climate Justice collective, based in Burlington, Vermont, held a False Solutions Circus highlighting the absurdity of Entergy Corporation suing the State of Vermont for refusing to allow the continued operation of its Vermont Yankee Nuclear power plant. Using humor to communicate a distrust of corporate solutions to the climate crisis, the Circus drew connections between the anti-nuke movement and climate justice struggles against energy development and resource extraction. On the day after the expiration of Vermont Yankee’s operating license, 900 people demonstrated and 130 were arrested at Entergy Headquarters in Brattleboro, Vermont. The Circus joined this day of action called by the SAGE Alliance, which brought together several anti-nuke organizations and dozens of affinity groups in September to coordinate the struggle to shut down Vermont Yankee.
While the False Solutions Circus brought a comical light to what is a serious issue, the purpose of the performance, according to Keith Brunner, a ringleader and organizer with Red Clover Climate Justice, was to “bring together the many different struggles against so-called ‘clean’ energy development promoted by the one percent under the banner of ‘false solutions.’” The false solutions presented included clean coal, natural gas, biomass, geoengineering, industrial scale hydro, wind and solar and, of course nuclear power.
“The most polluting industries in the country, including the nuclear industry, view the climate crisis as an opportunity to expand their control over energy resources,” said Keith Brunner, standing next to a satirical banner reading “Climate Change: The Profit-Making Opportunity of a Generation.” Keith has been a youth delegate to the past two United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change.
When asked to define what a false solution is, Red Clover Climate Justice organizer Sara Mehalick said, “A false solution to the climate crisis is one that depends on or worsens existing social inequalities or creates other areas of ecological destruction. Vermont Yankee & nuclear power in general is a great example. Uranium mining pollutes indigenous lands, nuclear power plants produce fuel for nuclear weapons & nuclear waste, and Entergy depends on the federal court systems to overturn the State of Vermont’s democratic decisions.”
The False Solutions Circus was performed in solidarity with communities affected by energy development and climate change policy across the northeast and around the world. “Organizing and resistance are the only ways to address climate change,” said Avery Pittman, a Red Clover Climate Justice organizer and Circus ringleader. “The strategies we develop today to replace dirty energy like nuclear, coal, oil and gas, may have serious impacts on disenfranchised communities if we do not focus on radical climate solutions rooted in a just transition towards ecologically resilient and equitable communities which can weather the social and ecological crises of tomorrow, while challenging the interlocking systems of oppression existing today.”