Since 2014, Theresa Knickerbocker has been the mayor of the village of Buchanan, the host community of the Indian Point Energy Center. The plant was closed, she says, because anti-nuclear groups “stoked up the…nuclear fear that Indian Point was this big bogeyman that was going to blow up and kill us all.” She also explains why she is opposed to putting any wind turbines or solar panels at the Indian Point site and why other communities that are hosting nuclear reactors need to get organized now and make “a show of strength” if they want to save their plants.
Robert Bryce 0:04
Hi, and welcome to the power hungry podcast. I’m Robert Bryce. On this podcast we talk about energy, power, innovation and politics. And this is Indian Point blackout week. And so I’m having guests on the podcast to talk about the closure of the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, New York. And I’m pleased to have as my guest Mayor Teresa Knickerbocker from Buchanan. Mayer, welcome to the power hungry podcast.
Unknown Speaker 0:27
Robert Bryce 0:29
So mayor, I didn’t warn you but I have people who come on the podcast introduce themselves now I’ve given people your title. But if you don’t mind, you’ve arrived at a dinner party. Imagine and you just arrived. You don’t know anyone there if you don’t mind explaining who you are.
Theresa Knickerbocker 0:42
Hi, I’m Mayor Teresa Knickerbocker from the great village of Buchanan in New York. We are the host community of the Indian Point energy center.
Robert Bryce 0:54
And how long have you lived in Buchanan mayor,
Theresa Knickerbocker 0:56
I’ve lived here my whole life and on the same street. I’m fourth generation here. My mom, her brothers and sisters were born in the house across the street from where I live today.
Robert Bryce 1:09
Sure, you’re attached to this town?
Theresa Knickerbocker 1:11
I yeah, the roots run very deep. I do have a second cousin who is fifth generation here. It’s a great community, it’s um, you know, it’s a good community, for the people who are retired to live here. It’s a safe place to live. Also, what we’re seeing is an influx of younger families. And so it’s a great place also to raise your family here, your children. It’s just it’s still small town USA.
Robert Bryce 1:39
So the Indian Point, energy energy centers stop producing power on April 30, after 56 years of memory serves of producing electricity. What’s the mood like in Buchanan today?
Theresa Knickerbocker 1:53
It’s Friday was a really sad day. Um, it was Yeah, it was it was tough, because you know what, we have been the host community for so many years since 1962. Unit One was one of the first commercial nuclear power plants within the country. So we were always known as one of the smallest communities with power plants. In the end, we had three nuclear reactors on the property at Indian Point energy center. So on Friday, I did a rally. It was for two fold reasons. One, it was historical. It was an end of an era. So we had people speak, there were other elected officials there, there were some of the employees that spoke some of the union members spoke. So it was it was just especially I think, to thank the employees, these people are just on believable, very dedicated, very dedicated, and a lot of pride in how they ran that plant there. So it was to thank them for their dedication and professionalism and safe operation of Indian Point.
Robert Bryce 3:05
Why did Indian Point close?
Theresa Knickerbocker 3:08
Indian Point closed, there were several, several reasons I feel there was an anti nuclear several anti nuclear groups that I believe stoked up the anti the the nuclear fear, that Indian Point was this big Boogeyman that was gonna blow up and kill us all. And if people really understood how nuclear worked that, in fact, is not the case. And like I said before, I was on the board in the 90s. And I would go to the NRC meetings.
Unknown Speaker 3:38
And I remember you were on the board of the nuclear rock. No, I was
Theresa Knickerbocker 3:42
on the board of the village Buchanan in the 90s. I was on for two terms. Then I took a break. And then I came back in 2009. But when I was on the board in the 90s, the village board, I would go to the NRC meetings, and with Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Nuclear Regulatory Commission meetings, they would have their annual meetings and you know, it kind of started back then all the anti nuclear, and at that time, honestly, I was on the fence about nuclear. But after going through this closure since the closure announcement, seeing how this affects the community, how it affects the employees, you know, there’s 1000 people that lost well paying jobs. So I guess we we become who we are through our experiences. And I have I have become now and I know my anti nuclear friends in the community are not going to be happy, but I’ve become very pro nuclear.
Robert Bryce 4:41
And yet these groups you alluded to them and one of them I’m going to call them out. I’ve been calling them out the Natural Resources Defense Council is very powerful group. They their budgets or annual budgets been in the six figures. And you’re saying that they that they were stoking stoke the nuclear fear and how did they do that? What why were in And I guess why did they do it and why were they so successful?
Theresa Knickerbocker 5:05
Because they’re very organized. There’s also Riverkeeper in our area, there’s Clearwater, they’re very anti nuclear. They feel that renewables should replace Indian Point, which, you know, let’s nobody is against renewables, none of us are against renewables, if they work. Fantastic, you know, so this is the new wave, but to close a nuclear power plant, zero carbon emissions. So who are the people that are environmentalist, zero carbon emissions, to close that, and have Indian point there 2000 plus megawatts replaced by gas fired plants. I’m missing how that’s good for the environment, because those gas fired plants are going to spew toxins into the air. So I know we’re talking about renewables. But we’re not there yet. Indian Point three still had a lot of life left to it. I don’t know if you know, Robert, but Indian Point three set a world record 753 days of continuous operation, let me say that, again, 753 days of continuous operation, before it shut down on April 30th. So I just think that it was premature for the plant to close, I think it had a lot of life in it. And that’s, that’s another part of the sadness, but to be replaced by things that are not good for the environment. You know, I think it was just premature.
Robert Bryce 6:49
And so you mentioned the the environmental groups, and you said, and use that line stoking nuclear fear. And that’s been the stock and trade of these anti nuclear groups. I, I don’t call them environmental groups anymore, because I, they I call them, quote, green groups, because they cloak themselves in green. But what their their policies they’re promoting, to me seemed the antithesis of environmental protection, because if they tried to replace Indian Point with renewables, they’re going to require a massive amount of land. And that’s, have you followed the renewable the issue of renewable energy siting in New York from everything that I’ve read and reported on? It’s very difficult, is it not?
Theresa Knickerbocker 7:28
And you know, and another thing I’m understanding in upstate New York, you know, the farmers are struggling, the farm business is very tough. It’s not an easy business. And I’m understanding that there’s acres that are used and the farmers are getting paid, maybe a couple of $1,000 an acre, we have 240 acres, the Indian Point Energy Center, 240 acres of prime real estate on the Hudson River, absolutely beautiful. And I’m not I I am totally against putting any type of either the windmills or any type of solar panels there. And what what you would need the property, you would need to replace Indian Point. So maybe someday in the future, maybe 10 years from now, maybe 20 years, I don’t know. But at some point, renewables might take over, but let’s also remember about renewables, the subsidies that go into them to make them viable. So what I’m saying is, renewables might be the future, but we’re not there yet.
Robert Bryce 8:34
She then let’s talk politics. And I understand and you know, be blunt we with you. You’re in a kind of a sensitive situation. You need help from the state. And yet the governor was involved in this decision. And so I’m expecting you to bash Governor Cuomo but he had a role here, did he not?
Theresa Knickerbocker 8:55
Yes, there were three we call it the we call it the three men in a room. There were three people that made this decision to close Indian Point that were in part of the the suit. So it was Governor Cuomo it was Riverkeeper and it was also Entergy
Robert Bryce 9:13
and, and tell me about Entergy where they are good. How were they like in terms of Buchanan and surrounding communities? How were they supportive? Were they a good corporate citizen for the local community?
Theresa Knickerbocker 9:27
They were very good corporate neighbors and and one thing I will tell you about Entergy, I did have
Robert Bryce 9:32
the answer. There’s nothing for you to you know they’re gone now. So it’s not like there’s gonna be some so you know, if they weren’t good you
Unknown Speaker 9:39
I’m telling you,
Theresa Knickerbocker 9:40
I’m going to tell you the truth. I had the opportunity to work with them. I will tell you and there’s no there’s no benefit in this for me for telling you this. I’m telling you the truth. So since I’ve been working I’ve been Mayor since 2014. And they have been very good to work with if there ever was an Issue, if there was anything that had to be done, they were always very good. The maintenance, you know, they kept up on maintenance. They ran the plant safely and I will get pushback from my anti nuclear anti nuke people, but they ran that plant safely, I was able to go into that plant. As a matter of fact, I had the opportunity the day before the plant closed to do a final tour. And I want to tell you just the attention to detail, that spotless, spotless, and you know what, I just and one of the things I will tell you, I have never worked in a nuclear power plant. So I don’t have that experience. I have no nuclear background or education. But, you know, I’ve learned a lot. But then again, I can also go over to the anti nuclear people. They neither have had the education, there’s no don’t people with nuclear degrees. There are no people that have worked at nuclear power plants. So, you know, I, I just I speak by from what I say. And but they were very good neighbor Entergy. Not only you know, they were our largest tax payer, they were our largest employer in our community. But also they were they were a generous company. And we’re never going to see this again, not only for the village, if you can, and they support it, you can and day, but they also supported other things in the community. Other than the library, the local library, the local, the local school, peekskill rotary, guiding eyes for the blind, I mean, I can go on and on and not just in our community throughout Westchester County. So with their grant program, they were very generous and that not only is that you can villager Buchanan gonna hurt, but you’re going to have all these organizations now that don’t have this funding anymore. The peekskill hospital, the Hudson Valley Hospital, they’ve donated a lot of money to them over the years. So this is this is something that also is going to be missing in our community.
Robert Bryce 12:09
So let’s talk about Buchanan. I know it’s a small village of the population and remind me the population numbers,
Theresa Knickerbocker 12:15
Robert Bryce 12:18
And your budget for the village is about $6 million. If that is remember,
Theresa Knickerbocker 12:22
it’s over 6 million, it’s close to you know, with the water budgets about seven.
Robert Bryce 12:27
And so what will the closure of Indian Point mean for the village of Buchanan in terms of loss taxes?
Theresa Knickerbocker 12:34
Well, we’re, you know, looking at half of our losing half of our revenue. But fortunately, since the announcement of January 2017, the closure I’ve been working on mitigation, the mitigation of the loss. So there’s different things that are going on, we were able to recently have an agreement with holtec, the company that should be purchasing it next month. So for next year’s, next year’s budget, we we were going to get zero but we’ve negotiated $1.2 million. So that gives us a little financial stability for next year’s budget. Also in the agreement are provisions for the local roads, there’s damage to the local roads. Plus there’s a provision for expedited release of parcels across property. So we have to look at things that will help us our tax base, so development will help our tax base. So if if the property could be released parcels of property that they don’t need, that will help us with our tax base.
Robert Bryce 13:42
So why were the opponents in this case, so successful? You know, the no fear sells there’s the old line in the newspapers business, if it bleeds, it leads. Nobody ever sold newspapers by saying everything’s gonna be okay. Instead, it’s the boogeyman is at the door, but it was yours. Why were these groups so successful in selling this idea about fear when the data shows that nuclear is the safest form of generation? Why what was the what allowed them what what fueled there? Why were they so successful in selling fear? And then what is it that what was in it for the organizations? What do they get out of this?
Theresa Knickerbocker 14:22
They’re very organized. They’ve been doing this for years. So I mentioned to you in the 90s, I, these were the same groups that we’re beating the drum to close Indian Point. Um, and they’re, they’re just, you know, they’re very organized, they, they they’re really a strong group, and they know how to be politically connected to the politicians and and sell their thoughts to them.
Robert Bryce 14:51
But it’s not just the politicians, right. It’s not just that they’re whispering in the ear of the governor. It’s that they’re, they’re convincing the public of this. So I mean, this has been One of the issues in convinced
Theresa Knickerbocker 15:01
the our local community, our local communities, you know, not just the village Buchanan town of courtland. In the area, of course, there’s some people who are against, you know that we’re afraid of the plant. But, you know, I lived there my whole life, I never feared that plant. And maybe it helped me more because I was able to go in to see you know, how the plant operated. So and I just think for the nuclear industry, I think it’s so important that somehow people are educated. And not not by walking on the internet and looking up things that have happened and you know, that that’s not an education. That’s not that’s not it. So it’s, it’s, it’s behooves the communities to really understand what nuclear is. And if you want your nuclear power plant there, you need to fight for it.
Robert Bryce 15:52
Let’s talk about that. And before we go further, just a reminder, this, my guest is Mayor Teresa Knickerbocker. She’s the mayor of Buchanan, the mayor of the village of Buchanan, New York, which has been the host community for the Indian Point Energy Center in New York, which closed on April 30. And so I’m having her here on Indian Point blackout week. The issues, though, that I think are key now and that we talked about this before we started recording was you said there’s, you don’t have a specific call to action that this plant is being closed now. But you wanted to get other people and other communities that are facing the closure of India of nuclear plants? What what’s your message to them, because there are two plants that are slated for closure this year, in Illinois, the Byron and Dresden plants. So you do have a call to action you went through? What’s your advice to those communities around those plants, including Diablo Canyon? Canyon, California? What’s your what’s your advice to them?
Theresa Knickerbocker 16:51
I think the best advice, you know, lessons learned, I think what you really need to do is you need to have your community educated, you need to have you need to push back. For the statements that are made. You need to educate people what nuclear power is, and that it’s not this big, bad Boogeyman that’s going to kill you. You know, yes, we’ve seen in Fukushima Yes, there was a problem the plant catastrophic, but the Indian Point power plant did not have the same operating system. So if you want to keep your nuclear power plant, now is the time or it’s been time that you have to educate the community, you have to just get people behind you and fight this.
Robert Bryce 17:41
And, and you you say get people behind you and find it and in what ways say reminding them that nuclear is safe that this is important for taxes? What what are the three or four things that you’d tell them if they’re going to stand up? and and and and do what you say
Theresa Knickerbocker 17:58
what they knows, they need to go to these meetings, the NRC meetings, I think they need to be there. And for us, I think they need to voice their opinion, I think they need to let people know that they want to keep this in their community. And it just has to be a show of strength. And just like the anti groups, you have to write letters, you have to you just have to do all these things and be organized to fight for the plant. Over the years. I’ve gone to NRC meetings. And unfortunately, I have not seen a lot of the community show up. But I think in retrospect, I don’t think people thought that these plants would be closed before their time. The plants were still supposed to be operational into into the 2030 timeframe. The 2030 timeframe, I’m sorry, I apologize. But so I think people didn’t think that that would it would happen. So that was part of the problem.
Robert Bryce 19:03
We know I can identify with that. Because I you know, we met back in 2018. And, and I thought, Oh, this, you know, surely they’re gonna come to their senses before this shuts down. Did you feel the same way that somehow? Yeah, I’ve heard what they’ve said. But no, they’re gonna they’re gonna realize this is a bad idea, and that they’re gonna change their mind.
Theresa Knickerbocker 19:23
Did you know, I never felt that way. The agreement that was made was pretty ironclad. I know, some of the pronuclear people felt that they could still keep the plant open. And you know, what can we do to keep it open, but it was such a tight agreement. And really the only way for the plan to remain open was two things. One was if there was a war, and we don’t want to see that, so that’s you know, and that would only keep the plant open two more years. The other way was if there was an energy like they couldn’t Replace the energy then they would keep it open for two more years. But that was the agreement. That was it. You know, so it to me, I understood it was done. It was over.
Robert Bryce 20:11
So and I think that that’s another key point that you mentioned. And it’s something that I’ve reported on was that the plant had had a lot of life left in it, and it could have the licenses could have been extended. And they and they were extended slightly to meet the closure date. But that in touring the plant, I remember one of the, the the people that Brian Van gore showed me around, he said, Oh, yeah, we could run this thing for decades. And he made a really interesting comment when we were walking around. He said, as I’ve walked around this plant, I marvel at how well designed it was. And that just that the, the people who put this together put a lot of thought into it, and that it was something that he thought about on a regular basis that wow, they really thought about how to make this thing last and that. That to me is the I interviewed Mark Nelson. He was on the podcast that we previously aired. And he said, that was part of what made the meet the event on Friday. So gripping to him was that it felt like a premature death. And he called it a funeral. Did you
Theresa Knickerbocker 21:11
find it? Yeah, I would liken it to that, I would definitely liken it to that. And it was I felt, we needed to do that. I think it was something the community needed to go through to let go of what was happening. But I have seen pictures. I mean, I was a little little girl when the plant was being built, and when the first reactor went online. So I don’t I don’t really remember it. But I do know the people that built that plant over the years, I’ve known them hard working, honest, dedicated people very proud of their work. That plant, it’s sad, it’s coming down because that that plant is well built. I still I had somebody jojen danno, who was one of the concrete Foreman’s over there, show me the pictures of unit three being built. And it’s just amazing looking at those pictures. I mean, I’m not I’m not a contractor. But these people, you’re right, put a lot of thought into it. They had their heart and soul into it. These were local union people that were working there, these are local from throughout the community, professionals that built that plant rock solid, you know, so it just and then you know, you think about it, these people lived in the community. They didn’t fear that plant at all, because they knew how well built that plant was.
Robert Bryce 22:50
I’ll follow up on that, because I you mentioned the the union unions and the union forced the workforce there, the utility workers, United utility Workers of America, I’m getting that name wrong. But that the part that to me, that makes me so cynical about this closure, to use Lilly tomlins line, no matter how cynical I get, I can’t keep up. But this you know, you hear the governor, Governor Cuomo, you hear President Biden saying we’re going to create great union jobs for these energy projects of the future. And yet, you have hundreds of union jobs that exist now that are being eliminated for the possibility, not the guarantee, the possibility that you might have some union might have some union jobs, created some time in the future somewhere. And I know that one of the union rep spoke on Friday, what what’s the feeling among the union represented the union workers in in this in Buchanan, and who worked at the plant? Do they? Is there a feeling of betrayal? How do they How are they seeing this in terms of their own? Their their jobs as union man and also what the politicians have told them?
Theresa Knickerbocker 24:00
I think they’re, you know, I don’t want to speak for them. But I think they’re feeling you know, the, you know, hopeful that there will be jobs, with the decommissioning of the plant. For the local unions, I
Unknown Speaker 24:14
mean, you know, what
Theresa Knickerbocker 24:16
I would like to see in and they’re going to be working, but the local people who worked building that plant or their families built that plant, who better would know those plants than the families of the people who work there. So we want to have that because, you know, these people know this plan. You can’t be bringing people in from all over the country. These people in the local communities know that plant best. But I, I don’t know, you know, going down the road, there’s going to be plenty of jobs, you know, it’s going to take 10 to 12, maybe 15 years for the decommissioning. So for over the the decommissioning years, there’ll be jobs going forward with the renewables who knows there. There’s just no guarantees there. And will they pay the same? Will they pay the same? Or will they last as long? Or will they last as long? Yeah, we don’t know. That’s the big question.
Robert Bryce 25:11
So why are the Why are the renewables this lower of renewables at? Why is that in your view? I mean, you’ve you’ve thought about these issues for a long time. Now, you’ve been the mayor, you said since 2014. So yeah, seven, seven years. So you’ve known about these the arguments on both sides, you say you’re adamantly pro nuclear now, you’ve talked about the fear mongering of nuclear this misplaced fear? Why is this attraction of renewables so strong in your mind? Or do you believe Why do you Why do you or do you see that?
Theresa Knickerbocker 25:43
I think they think that that’s the answer. And like I said before, nobody is against renewables. But you know, what, when we talk about nuclear power, we’re talking reliable power, you know, so we’re not completely seeing reliable power with the renewables, nor are we seeing the replacement of nuclear power with the renewables. Maybe like I said, Maybe 10 years down the road, maybe you’ll see that I don’t know. But another thing that concerns me nationwide, in my community is security. If we can’t have reliable power, that concerns me that that goes to our nation’s security. And,
Unknown Speaker 26:27
Theresa Knickerbocker 26:29
we I don’t want to see us going backwards here and becoming a third world country.
Robert Bryce 26:36
So quite. I’m with you, I think the reliability part of this, I think, you know, as I look at it, I think Well, okay, even if you don’t care about the co2, even if you don’t care about the union jobs, you should care about the reliability and the fuel diversity, right, that these are important attributes for any electric grid. And I’ve written a lot about electric grids going around the world looking at electric grids, and they’re very fragile, and they can fail. And I’ve seen it here myself in Texas and been blacked out. And that that’s
Theresa Knickerbocker 27:06
right, you live in Texas. So yes, you just experienced that didn’t show I did.
Robert Bryce 27:10
So that issue of security, I think is one that in you, you put it in the terms of national security, I think you did. And this is this is an important for the one of the most important cities in the in the entire country to get 25% of its electricity from one plant and now just, it’s gone. So have you had conversations with people about that issue about the reliability with with the grid workers or any other people in your, in your, in your region?
Theresa Knickerbocker 27:38
People are concerned, you know, they’re they’re concerned about blackouts. So you know, that’s, that’s something out of my control. But I always knew that Indian Point had reliable power, no matter what kind of storms came. Sandy, remember how bad Sandy was? Yeah, so we were, you know, especially in the village Buchanan, we we had our lights on, you know, or if we went out, we went out for a day or something like that. So let me tell you when it’s in the middle of the winter time you want your power on. And I see another thing with the antis, one of the ways that they’re they’re thinking that we can overcome if there’s a shortage and power is conservation. And I’ve said this before, let me tell you, in the middle of the winter, I am not lowering my heat. Okay, just not doing it in the middle of the summertime. My air conditioners going on. I am not conserving, absolutely not. So, you know, we’ve been told that there will the replacement power will be there, you know, with the two gas fired plants that are going up. And then of course, there’s the where they call them like peaker plants, the gas fired peaker plants if they need more energy and stuff. But once again, we’re talking about carbon emissions.
Robert Bryce 28:56
Which in then is maybe of all the issues that makes me the most cynical is the environmental groups who argued for the closure of this plant are adamantly active in terms of climate politics. And you know that we’re facing a climate crisis, and yet they closed a plant, two gigawatts of zero carbon electricity generation capacity. That to me, just makes no sense at all. Have you talked with any of these activists and, and talked about it in those terms in terms of Well, how do you how can you support now
Unknown Speaker 29:23
I really haven’t
Theresa Knickerbocker 29:24
had that conversation. The conversations I’ve had with them in the past is, you know, they thought that the solar panels would be great all over the Indian Point property. And I said absolutely not. That’s beautiful property and we’re not covering it up with solar panels.
Robert Bryce 29:39
So that you can I interrupt you there? Sure.
Unknown Speaker 29:41
Robert Bryce 29:43
Absolutely not, we’re not covering it with solar panels. Why not?
Theresa Knickerbocker 29:46
Because it’s a beautiful piece of property located on the Hudson River. It’s, it’s, you know, you were there. You saw the property. It’s absolutely gorgeous. And why are we just throwing solar panels on it? But not only that, Don’t believe that even if we covered every inch of that property, we could replace the energy from Unit Two and Three?
Robert Bryce 30:10
Well, I think that’s verifiable. And the solar panels, I don’t think we’re very well at night, at least that’s what I’ve been told.
Theresa Knickerbocker 30:15
No, they usually don’t know. And I don’t think we’re there with battery storage yet. I just I just we’re not we’re not there. So if Indian Point, I think it’s premature, that it was closed, but if it continued for a few more, a few more years, five years, 10 years, you know, I don’t know, I don’t have that answer. But if if there was some type of reliable to to go to come, you know, from there to that and not go to gas. I think maybe people could accept it a little better.
Robert Bryce 30:50
But instead, there’s it’s going to be and I think that one of the union representatives said we’re closing it, and we’re not getting anything in return.
Unknown Speaker 30:58
Robert Bryce 31:01
So it’s being replaced, and there’s nothing there. That’s reliable. I mean, the gas fired generation, the independent system operators say, well, that’s reliable. But we’ve also seen what can happen if with too much reliance on gas. And we saw that in Texas, we saw in Oklahoma as well, just in February, where too much reliance on natural gas resulted in very high prices. And in some cases, blackouts.
Theresa Knickerbocker 31:22
Yeah, I saw some of the Texas bills. And I was like, Oh, my God, my heart went out to the people in Texas, I just, yeah, not good. Not good. So you never with anything, want to put all your eggs in one basket, you know, so renewables, you know, there should be a percentage of renewables, there should be a percentage of nuclear, if you want to have backup, if there’s a problem with gas as a backup, you know, not to rely on that, you know, so it should be some type of mixing up what what’s, you know, the, the whole portfolio of that.
Robert Bryce 32:00
So what’s next for you, Mayor, you’ve been in office, now, seven years, you’re going to run again, are you
Theresa Knickerbocker 32:06
I’d like to run again, I’d like to finish the mitigation of what I’ve worked on. I’ve already spoken about, you know, holtec, working with them with with, you know, going forward. There’s a the New York State has a cessation fund, that were eligible for seven years, which is more of a bridge to get us hopefully, into development and doing other things to replace. One of the other things I have been working with, and I really hope Congress and senate understands how important this is to the communities that are losing nuclear power plants is the stranded act, it is so important for us, the Department of Energy is responsible for the spent fuel. In the end, we will have at the Indian Point property 125 spent fuel cask that the Department of Energy is responsible for there was an agreement Bay that the Department of Energy would dispose of that we should no way in hell be a storage facility for the Department of Energy. And if we are, this is where the standard comes in, then the community should be compensated for that. So I know I’ve worked with people like Scott mnemic, and other people throughout the country, you know, in a similar position as as we are. And you know, they have been working, you know, very hard to get this push through. But I can’t stress enough to the Congress in the Senate, that this is really important to these communities that have stranded nuclear waste. Because even if that property, think about this, even if that property is completely decommissioned, we have it’s going to be two pads of 100. With 125. We can’t develop that property. We can’t develop around it. But that was the agreement, they were going to find a final repository. So do I think that policy looking back now, do I think that policy of leaving the spent fuel throughout the country was wrong? Yes. Other countries, refurbish the spent fuel. We had a policy, I believe it started with Jimmy Carter, that the spent fuel was left in the cast and to find a permanent repository. Well, that hasn’t happened. So it’s imperative that these you know, our government gets this together and figures out are you gonna find upon final repository, which was supposed to be Yucca Mountain, but there’s pushback. So I understand. I understand that from those people. They don’t not my backyard, the NIMBY. I get that But it’s not fair to all these different communities around the country to have this spent fuel sitting on these pads. It has to be monitored, there has to be security. So it’s time for the Department of Energy to either compensate these communities or get this stuff off the out of the communities, one of the other. Could you tell I’m a little angry about that?
Robert Bryce 35:26
I can indeed. Let’s see. Let me just ask you one. One last thing. We’ll a couple last things if you don’t mind, Mayor, and I appreciate your time and my guest is Mayor Teresa Knickerbocker. She’s the mayor of the village of Buchanan, New York. In beautiful Westchester County. She’s has a starring role, by the way in juice, how electricity explains the world, our new documentary, which you can watch on the Roku channel. Her call to action is just two other nuclear communities around the country saying if you have nuclear plants, and you want to say them, you better get busy now. So mayor, how do you keep your cynicism in check after watching this debacle, and I’m going to call it a debacle. And I’m cynical about it. And it makes me mad. It makes me sad. You know, it makes me even more cynical about our politicians, particularly at the national level who say one thing and then do another. If they talk about climate crisis, they talk about there’s an existential crisis, we have to do something, do something do something and yet Indian Point closes, and they say nothing. How do you keep your cynicism in check, because mine runs amok.
Theresa Knickerbocker 36:27
It’s, it’s very difficult. This has this, this must have aged me like 100 years, going through this whole thing, worrying about the community, many sleepless nights, I’m just trying to figure out how we’re going to survive with, you know, financially, it breaks my heart, the people that have lost their jobs. They just, I just, you know, just looking at their faces, it was too much the other day, but very dedicated, very dedicated people and really had their heart and soul into the operation of that plant. The only thing I think that keeps me from being extremely cynical is you really somehow, you, you just have to stay focused on what needs to be done. There’s a lot that needs to be done, when you’re going to get into a closure of a power plant, your largest employer, your largest taxpayer. So I think just staying focused on on the community and and helping them to get through it. It just and you know what, one thing I just if I didn’t have a sense of humor, I don’t know where I would be right now I just somehow I try to have a sense of humor, and I try to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. You know, it was sad for the plant to close, I’m not happy about it, obviously, I’m very unhappy about it. But you know, I have to look to the future. Also, I have to stay hopeful for the community, I have to look what how we are going to reinvent ourselves. So the opportunity to possibly have some of the property released, expedited release gives me a little hope that we can help, you know, mitigate the loss. We’re looking more for a mixed use to replace, we’re not looking to be into manufacturing again. But you know, I just you know, I know some people aren’t going to be happy this, but there’s a new generation nuclear. You never know, maybe some way down the road there. Who knows. Because right across the street from Indian Point, we have the switchyard for Con Edison, where the power would go into that switchyard and it would shoot down county and shoot into New York City. So you never know what the future holds for you. But it just gives me a glimmer of hope that, you know, maybe there can be some development on this beautiful property not next to the you know, there’s decommissioning that has to happen. Okay, that has to happen. But there are parcels that are on the outskirts, the north and the south areas that could do some type of potential development. We did have a company that came in that manufactures the windmills, and they wanted to in the town of Portland properly, but they were going to eventually come into ours. And we said absolutely not. It was manufacturing. It wasn’t many jobs, and it would basically take up most of the property. So we were not interested in that.
Robert Bryce 39:41
All right, well, Mayor, you’ve been kind with your time and I think we covered the main issues here and I I thank you for your time and I know
Theresa Knickerbocker 39:51
Thank you, Robert is as always, you know you do a great job getting the information out much appreciate it.
Robert Bryce 39:57
Well, I appreciate your work. I know it’s a hard Job the best to you and and all of your constituents in Buchanan. If you want to follow up on Mayor Knickerbocker you can visit on the web you can find the village of Buchanan It’s beautiful, small town. And I was pleased to be there a few years ago Mayor the best to you and your your your constituents in Buchanan and to all you people in podcast land. Thanks for tuning in. This has been another episode of Indian Point blackout week, there are more episodes coming to mark the closure of what is arguably one of the most important nuclear plants in America. A plant that should not have been closed but was for a lot of reasons, none of which are any good. So anyway, we’ll tune in again. We’ll have another episode talking about this. So tune in next time again. Thank you, Mayor. All right. Thank you.