General Election Candidates’ Views on Pilgrim

Cape Downwinders’ Candidate Survey

Cape Downwinders contacted 39 Massachusetts candidates in the upcoming general election to ascertain their views on the closing of the Pilgrim nuclear reactor in Plymouth operated by the Entergy Corporation of Louisiana. The candidates include some running for statewide office; some for local office; and some for federal office. Jump to responses from candidates for: Statewide | State legislative | Federal office.

Each candidate was asked to answer three questions. Does he/she support permanently closing the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station? Does he/she support expanding the current emergency planning zone for plume exposure to include all of the Cape and Islands? Would he/she accept, or has he/she accepted, campaign contributions from Entergy or is affiliates?

Finally, additional comments or recommendations from the candidates were welcomed.
All responses are posted below so that interested citizens may determine the views of individual candidates on this issue.

Cape Downwinders also did a survey of candidates views in the primary election.

For questions or comments, please contact Larry Minear at (508-255-3430).

Here is the questionnaire given to the candidates:

Question 1: Do you support permanently closing the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station? Background: In 2013, all 15 Cape Cod towns passed resolutions asking the Governor to request the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to close the reactor because public safety cannot be assured. In early 2014 five towns on Martha’s Vineyard followed suit.

Question 2: Do you support expansion of the current emergency planning zone for plume exposure to include all of Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket Counties? Background: Legislation introduced last year at the State House (H2045) would enlarge the current Plume Exposure Pathway Emergency Planning Zone to include all of Cape Cod and the Islands. The bill failed to be voted out of the Joint Public Health Committee.

Question 3: Have you accepted or would you accept campaign contributions from Entergy or any of its affiliates? If so, please specify the amount.

Question 4: Additional comments and recommendations (if any).


  • ‘G-R’ means ‘Green-Rainbow’
  • ‘Ind’ means ‘Independent’
  • ‘Lib.’ Means ‘Libertarian’
  • ‘UIP’ means ‘United Independent Party’
  • Blank cells indicate no response
  • ‘>’ means: see ‘Additional comment’
State-wide offices
Name Office Party Q1 Q2 Q3 Additional Comment
Charles D. Baker Governor R
Martha M. Coakley Governor D > Y+ Y+ Q 1: I believe that ensuring public safety should be our first priority. That is why my office fought aggressively to urge federal authorities to consider adequate safety measures, especially in light of the tragedy at Fukushima. As governor, I will hold Entergy and federal authorities accountable for ensuring the safety of the plant, and if adequate standards are not met, I will call on the NRC to close the plant.

Q 2: As Governor, I would instruct my Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to work closely with federal authorities to ensure that every community potentially affected by an emergency at Pilgrim will be included in the emergency planning process and have access to the necessary resources to respond to an emergency.

Q 3: I have received a single, $200 donation from an individual who identifies herself as an employee of Entergy. However, political contributions have never and will never affect my decision making as a public servant.

Evan Falchuk Governor UIP > Y N Q 1: I am concerned about the safety issues at Pilgrim, and the difficulty in evacuating people in the event of an emergency. At the same time, we have a need for baseload generating capacity until such time as energy storage technology becomes more advanced, and a greater penetration of renewables in the market is achieved. Because there is not yet any alternative to the significant amount of power Pilgrim produces I support keeping it open until we are able to meet our energy needs elsewhere. Meanwhile we must do all we can, in coordination with the federal government, to ensure that Pilgrim is able to operate in the safest manner possible.
Scott D. Lively Governor Ind. N+ Y+ > Q 1: I believe the Pilgrim plant is safe and its safeguards can and should be continuously upgraded..

Q 2: Contingency planning of every sort is simply a fundamental responsibility of government.

Q 3: Maybe. I wouldn’t have a problem accepting campaign donations from any source so long as it was understood up front that I always act according to my principles and would lean against even the appearance of favoritism to donors.

Jeffrey S. McCormick Governor Ind. > Y N Q 1: I support closing the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant but we must do it in a way that replaces the energy it produces with clean, affordable, renewable sources of energy. Nuclear power, although carbon neutral, poses serious health risks to surrounding communities because of the radioactive waste and potential safety problems at the plant. Closing Pilgrim without replacing the energy it produces will result in higher energy costs for the hard working families of the Commonwealth and that is something we can’t afford.
Angus Jennings Lt. Governor UIP > > > He indicated that his position on the future of the Pilgrim nuclear plant is reflected in the statement by Evan Falchuk submitted in response to the Downwinder questionnaire.
Stephen Kerrigan Lt. Governor D > > > He indicated that his position on the future of the Pilgrim nuclear plant is reflected in the statement by Martha Coakley submitted in response to the Downwinder questionnaire.
Shelly A. Saunders Lt. Governor Ind.
Karyn E. Polito Lt. Governor R
Tracy Post Lt. Governor Ind. > > > She indicated that her position on the future of the Pilgrim nuclear plant is reflected in the statement by Jeffrey McCormick submitted in response to the Downwinder questionnaire.
Maura Healey Attorney General D Y+ > N Q 1: As Chief of the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau at the Attorney General’s office, I oversaw our objections and legal challenge to the NRC’s decision to re-license Pilgrim in 2012. I believed then, and believe now, that Pilgrim poses significant safety concerns related to its spent fuel pool and aging design and technology, concerns that are all the more vivid after Fukushima. The NRC failed to sufficiently consider the lessons learned from Fukushima and the mitigation measures pushed by our office.

I’m aware, of course, of the region’s loss of baseload power, with Brayton, Salem, Somerset, and Yankee coming offline. As Attorney General, I’ll continue to fight to ensure we meet our energy needs without putting our citizens at risk.

Q 2: I support extending the emergency planning zone to include people put in danger by Pilgrim’s continued operation. As Attorney General, I would consult with experts in emergency planning as to the proper size of the zone – we shouldn’t let inertia stand in the way of proper emergency planning, nor should we wait until it’s too late.

Additional comment: One of the major problems posed by Pilgrim is that because there is no long-term storage solution for spent fuel, it gets stored on site. When these plants were designed – in the 1970s – nobody anticipated this sort of on-site long-term storage. But a permanent off-site storage facility still has not been identified. As Attorney General, I will continue to advocate for federal Congressional efforts, such as the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013, to address the long-term storage of nuclear waste.

John B. Miller Attorney General R
David D’Arcangelo Secretary of State R Y+ Y+ N Q 1: I support permanent closing of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ranked Pilgrim as the 2nd Highest Risk nationwide of nuclear core damage from an earthquake. So, the safety of this plant is in doubt. Further, as we learned from the failed Fukushima station, the nearly five decades old technology and design of this plant is both outdated and flawed. Most importantly, the residents of the Cape do not have viable evacuation exit points, which places them in a potentially catastrophic position. Finally, the economic impacts of any type of nuclear calamity would not only be devastating to our people, but the entire Massachusetts economy would be placed in great jeopardy with any major incident at Pilgrim.

Q 2: Yes, this is common sense and should have been done years ago. As Secretary of State I would use my bully pulpit to advocate for expanding emergency planning to include all of Massachusetts.

Additional comment: Another significant reason to close the Pilgrim plant is because Massachusetts has a wide array of safe, sound and environmentally friendly energy sources available to us. I am in favor of the proposed construction of Natural Gas pipeline(s) into Massachusetts. Consider that in Massachusetts approximately half of the state’s homes heat with natural gas and approximately two-thirds of the electricity consumed in the state is generated in gas-fired plants. Also, as a policymaker, I would be in favor of financially incentivizing conservation practices for both commercial and residential energy users.

Daniel L. Factor Secretary of State G-R Y+ Y+ N+ Q 1: Yes, I support permanent closure of all nuclear power plants. Whether it be Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or Fukushima, history has shown that nuclear power presents an intolerable risk of mass harm to all living things. Given the additional facts that 1) Pilgrim is a Fukushima style reactor and 2) There will never be an adequate way to evacuate the Cape, Vineyard and Nantucket, let alone the harm that is posed to the entire Boston area, it must be an absolute priority that Pilgrim close immediately. I am proud that my party, the Green Party is the only national political party that opposes nuclear power.

Q 2: Yes, while Pilgrim unfortunately continues to operate, I support all measures that would enlarge emergency planning in Massachusetts including expansion of the emergency planning zones to include all of Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket Counties.

Q 3: Absolutely not, and I never will. Both my campaign and the Green-Rainbow party would prohibit accepting such a contribution as highly unethical. It should be kept in mind that Massachusetts bans all corporate contributions in State Elections. Only my party, the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party (the Massachusetts affiliate of the Green Party) goes further by prohibiting their candidates from accepting contributions from lobbyists and officers of corporations that lobby. In this way, Green-Rainbow candidates like myself prevent corporate contributions from being delivered through the front, back or side door.

William F. Galvin Secretary of State D
Deborah B. Goldberg Treasurer D Y+ Y+ N Q 1: I favor the closure of the Plymouth Nuclear power plant. It is a very serious problem with enormous impacts on the health, safety and welfare of thousands and thousands of Massachusetts residents and billions of dollars of property and assets. Pilgrim is the same generation as the Japanese reactor that failed in the tsunami. We may not have tsunamis but at a sea level location combined with climate change, northeasters, rogue waves, and now tornados the dangers are real. Both plants were considered to have twenty to thirty year lives when they were brought on board. Pilgrim is constantly having maintenance problems with an unreliable cooling system and structural weaknesses in its roof.

While it is still operating we need to take proactive steps to implement a long-range plan for a shut-down which includes as its highest priority the preservation of six hundred jobs. If we have a realistic plan to the decommissioning of the plant, we have the opportunity of re-training and reallocating jobs into greener energy options and other industries. A plan will also give us the chance to remove and safely store the rods rather than risking their exposure.

Q. 2: I absolutely support H2045 submitted by Representatives Sarah Peake and Ann Margaret Ferrante. Both Representatives are supporting me in the Treasurer’s race because we share the same values that include environmental concerns, coastal water issues, and the health safety and welfare for coastal communities among others. Additionally, my family has lived in Barnstable County for over 50 years and we ourselves want the assurances that our safety is being considered along with everyone who lives in the Cape and Islands.

Additional comments: The Pilgrim power plant is part of the larger issue of our dependency on sources of energy that are harmful to our environment and our health. This past spring, as a town meeting member in Brookline I supported Brookline PAX’s warrant article to have Brookline’s pension fund divest from fossil fuels. As Treasurer I will not only make sure divestment happens on the state level but will work with organizations like Ceres to find alternative investments that will result in business opportunities and growth in environmentally sensitive alternatives.

Michael T. Heffernan Treasurer R
Ian T. Jackson Treasurer G-R > > > Q1. Yes, closing Pilgrim is long over due.

Yes, the picture in question one explains the need to protect all of our people.

No, state law prohibits the acceptance of donations from businesses. The Green-Rainbow party team has agreed to refuse donations from lobbyist or the officers of for profit corporations that employ lobbyist.
I dream of a day when they have closed their fossil fuel plants and Pilgrim, Indian Point, FiltzPatrick, Bermont Yankee, Palisades, Arkansas Nuclear, River Bend, Waterford, Grand Gulf, and Cooper Nuclear.
Further the Massachusetts pension fund must not be used to support the stock prices of companies with similar harmful outlooks.

Local offices (State legislative)
Name Office Party Q1 Q2 Q3 Additional Comment
Ronald R. Beaty, Jr. Senator Cape & Islands R > Y N The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station can and should be closed, once a newly updated and fully compliant replacement nuclear power station has been constructed and is made completely operational. Please understand that though I agree that the aging Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station should eventually be decommissioned, I do however strongly support Nuclear Energy as a safe and viable means of electrical power production for Cape Cod residents for generations to come. On a related issue, the Cape Wind Project should NOT be built at the location currently proposed in Nantucket Sound. As presently proposed, I am opposed to the Cape Wind Project.
Daniel A. Wolf Senator Cape & Islands D Y Y N As explained by Senator Wolf’s staff, Senator Wolf has been perhaps the most consistent, vocal, and persuasive voice in state government arguing for the responsible shutdown of Pilgrim. While emergency planning and evacuation improvements are important – though arguably not feasible – he also is focused on improving spent fuel storage and mitigating environmental impacts from the power station’s intake and discharge into Massachusetts Bay, among other things. Smart planning also must begin now to be sure that Pilgrim’s contribution to the overall power grid is replaced by a combination of renewable sources, and reduced demand.
Vinny M. deMacedo Senator Plymouth & Barnstable R > Y > Q 1: While I share Cape Downwinders’ concerns with safety and community impacts, and have always advocated for the safe operation of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, this question deserves more than a simple yes or no answer. We all know that the plant is nearing the end of its life cycle, and I believe that we must have a broad-based, transparent discussion on how that eventual closure will be implemented by the NRC. Issues that will need to be addressed include the storage of nuclear waste on the site, compensation to the Town of Plymouth, the loss of jobs and tax payments to the local community, and potential development of the plant’s large buffer areas.

I also strongly believe that the Congress, President, Department of Energy (DOE) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) need to do more, particularly in light of the lessons learned following the disaster at Fukushima in Japan, to ensure Pilgrim’s continued safe operation and equally safe eventual shutdown.

As a resident, father, business owner and as the State Representative from Plymouth, I am very familiar with the complex issues, strong opinions, and safety concerns regarding Pilgrim. That is why I have worked closely with my legislative colleagues such as Congressman Keating, Senate President Therese Murray, and Representative Calter as well as local officials to express our concerns to the NRC over the relicensing of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, particularly regarding the storage of spent fuel rods. I will continue to demand that the federal government lives up to its promises and commitments.

Q 3: A review of my campaign finance records for the past 10 years revealed a single $100 donation from an Entergy employee.

Heather M. Mullins Senator Plymouth & Barnstable Lib. Y+ Y+ N+ Q 1: I, Heather Mullins, do support permanently closing the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. Having attended the public forum earlier this year I had the privilege of hearing both sides, and had conversations with locals, non-profits, officials from both the NRC and Entergy, and felt that everyone I spoke with had something valuable to bring to the table. There is no doubt in my mind that the Pilgrim Power Station has got to go. The public safety issues raised by those present were real, well researched and explained, and not even debatable. I also believe that those running the plant are doing everything in their power to safely run it to the absolute best of their abilities. Unfortunately that alone does not erase the threats posed by the plant. Shutting down the plant overnight, in my opinion, is not an option. With something as complex as a Nuclear Power Plant, both sides need to collaborate and develop a safe and effective well thought out step by step plan to close the plant. When attending this forum NRC and Entergy officials spent their speaking time explaining their processes and procedures of how they are working to safely run the plant. When individuals from the floor were given the microphone, they spent their time speaking of all the problems resulting from the plant and, without question, proved these problems existed. Few ideas and solutions were discussed. There are many alternatives to nuclear energy. One idea that’s been brought to my attention is taking advantage of the high velocity constant currents surrounding the Cape to create energy. With some of these currents reaching 4.5 knots, an immense amount of energy can be harnessed. Another idea that was brought to my attention was a new technology called the Bloom Box. It’s currently being used by companies like Fed Ex, Walmart, Staples, and Google. The device is cost efficient, produces clean energy, and releases no emissions. With all these alternative solutions available, there is no reason why steps haven’t been taken to begin closing to Pilgrim Power Plant.

Q 2: I, Heather Mullins, absolutely would support the expansion of the emergency planning zone and can’t understand why anyone would not. The plant is being kept open against the will of the residents, and until that plant is safely shut down which it should be, every resident on the Cape & Islands deserves to be taken into account with emergency planning zones. Some residents are worried that is it currently stands, there is no escape from the Cape. With only two bridges connecting it to the rest of the state. However there could be an escape from the cape. In the event of an emergency like one with the nuclear power plant, designated loading stations could be selected all around the Capes coast, and ships could board thousands of residents and take them to safety if need be. That is one of my suggestions.

Q 3: I, Heather Mullins, have not accepted any campaign contributions from Entergy or any of its affiliates. I’m not quite sure they are legally allowed to donate to candidates. If I was offered campaign contributions from Entergy, its affiliates, or any other group, and could legally accept such contributions, I would accept them and be incredibly grateful and thankful. However, I cannot be bought, and I cannot be bribed, so if anyone or any group offers me contributions, they should be aware my morals take precedence over money. I will always do and support what the people want. I without doubt believe closing the plant is the right thing to, and wholeheartedly agree with people. No amount of money or contributions will change that. Perhaps that’s why I have not been offered any contributions from them or their affiliates at this point.

Matthew C. Patrick Senator Plymouth & Barnstable D Y+ Y N I am supportive of closing Pilgrim, but hope that economic issues will force its closure. If that is not the case, I will sign on to legislation in support.

Additional comment: When I was in the House, I wrote and passed legislation requiring Entergy to supply KI to all of the Cape towns.

Timothy R. Whelan 1st Barnstable R
Elisa Beth Zawadzkas 1st Barnstable D Y Y N
Adam G.Chaprales, Sr. 2nd Barnstable R N+ Y+ N+ Q 1: Given the current information we know about the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant,  I do not support closing it permanently. I believe the energy and jobs the power plant provides to our region are too important to justify closing it completely. However, I acknowledge important questions and concerns about the plant’s safety, which is always paramount. I think it is appropriate for us to constantly reevaluate the plant’s fitness to operate. In particular, I think it was wrong for the federal government to have granted a long-term license extension to the plant without answering more questions about its safety to the satisfaction of those of us who live and work close by. If we are to have nuclear power available to us as an energy option, we have the responsibility of making sure that power plants are operated in the safest manner possible and that nearby residents are not at risk.

Q 2: For the reasons outlined above, and out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of people who live in close proximity to the plant, I support expanding the current emergency planning zone to include all of Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket Counties, all of which are potentially at risk in the event of a malfunction or other incident at the power plant.

Q 3: I have not accepted any campaign contributions from Entergy during my campaign for State Representative. My campaign contributions are a matter of public record as reported in filings to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

Brian R. Mannal 2nd Barnstable D Y+ Y+ N+ Q1: I believe with all certainty that Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station should be shut down permanently per the resolve of the twenty towns who have made their voices heard time and time again. To ask us to calmly shelter in place whilst we wither in our homes following a radiological disaster is unacceptable. PNSP has overstayed it’s lease, outlived its licensure, and with every emergency shutdown our population becomes more certain of our peril. Frankly, I wonder how it can be profitable.

Q2: If the NRC won’t shut down PNSP, then it is imperative that the Commonwealth take steps to ensure the safety of its citizens. Enlarging the Plume Exposure Pathway Emergency Planning Zone to include those of us who live on Cape Cod and our neighbors on the Islands is the smart thing to do. It’s the fair thing to do. And it’s the ethical thing to do. I am confident that in the new session H2045 will be refiled, and I will, voters willing, be an amplified voice in representing my district in this critical legislation.

Q3: I will never knowingly accept, nor have I knowingly accepted money from Entergy nor any of its affiliates.

David T. Vieira 3rd Barnstable R
Sarah K. Peake 4th Barnstable D Y Y+ N Q2: It’s my bill, H2045, that would require this.
Randy Hunt 5th Barnstable R > > > He indicated that he is being inundated with requests for his views and has decided as a matter of policy not to respond to any requests since he cannot respond to all requests.
Matthew M. Terry 5th Barnstable R Y Y N
Timothy R. Madden Barnst/Dukes/Nantucket D > > > As a general rule, he does not respond to requests for his views, given the number of such requests that he receives.
Joseph C. Ferreira Gov’s Council 1st District D
Leo G. Cakounes Barnst County Comm R Y+ Y+ N+ Q 1: Although I am a supporter of nuclear Energy, I am in agreement that the Pilgrim Power plant is of older technology and needs drastic upgrade to conform to 2014 standards for not only safety yet production.

Q 2: We are at risk, we need a plan to deal with a plume.

Q 3: I do not accept donations from any large business or affiliate, only individuals.

Mark R. Forest Barnst County Comm D Y+ Y+ N Q 1 and 2: I am in favor of closing the plant, and expanding the evacuation zone. It is one of the reasons why I am running for this office. The people have spoken on this.

Additional comment: I fully support the efforts of Senator Wolf on this issue.

Federal Offices
Name Office Party Q1 Q2 Q3 Additional Comment
Brian J. Herr US Senator R
Edward J. Markey US Senator D
John C. Chapman US Rep 9th R
William R. Keating US Rep 9th D
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One Response to General Election Candidates’ Views on Pilgrim

  1. Bill Cheslock says:

    I will support with my vote those candidates who are in
    favor of closing Pilgrim. In my opinion, a vote to close
    the nuclear plant is a vote in favor of those of us who make
    Cape Cod our home.
    I noticed that Tim Whelan did not vote at all. I was leaning
    towards voting for Ms. Zawadzkas anyway. However, Mr.
    Whelan’s attempt to ignore the important questions
    about Pilgrim has made it final for me. Mr. Whelan either
    doesn’t care about us, or he’s completely ignorant of the facts.
    Either way, I’m not voting for him, nor will I vote for candidates
    who resemble him regarding Pilgrim.
    I will vote for those candidates who will fight to close this very
    dangerous accident waiting to happen.