On the first anniversary of the Vermont State Senate’s historic ‘no confidence’ vote regarding the problem-plagued nuclear plant owned by Entergy Louisiana, the company continues to blanket the state in false and misleading advertising in an effort to rebuild its tarnished image.
On February 24, 2010, a bipartisan 26-4 vote of the Senate declared that a possible 20-year license extension for the plant would not be in the public’s best interest. The vote signaled senators’ support for the retirement of the leaking relic on time in 2012.
Unwilling to take ‘no’ for an answer, Entergy Louisiana has been running a massive paid advertising campaign on television, radio and in newspapers across the state for months. In ads featuring its own employees and businesses friendly to the accident-prone plant, Entergy is seeking to divert attention away from its operating mishaps and history of false statements.
“The bad news for Entergy Louisiana is that all of the PR in the world couldn’t turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse,” said Paul Burns, executive director of VPIRG. “Vermont legislators have already considered this issue and moved on. It’s appropriate that we thank our senators for their good judgment one year after their historic vote.”
Entergy Louisiana’s advertising track record is no better than its performance with cooling tower maintenance or radioactive leak detection. In a letter to Assistant Attorney General Elliot Burg dated October 17, 2008, then-Entergy vice president Jay Thayer admitted that its use of the term “zero greenhouse gas emissions” in its advertising was “inaccurate” and he added that the company had ceased using the term.
Thayer also claimed in that letter (a copy of which VPIRG obtained pursuant to a public records request) that Entergy had “instituted a new review policy for all advertising which includes a broader review process including members of our corporate communications staff up to the Senior Vice President level. This new policy has been in use and is being institutionalized in our new Enexus business procedures. We believe that these new business procedures will provide assurance that our external advertising and media content meets our standards for accuracy and compliance.”
“I can’t say whether Entergy Louisiana’s current ad campaign meets its own standards for accuracy,” said Burns, “but I can tell you that they sure don’t pass the smell test.”
In one of Entergy’s widely played ads, Chuck Baraw of Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa in Stowe claims that “If we were to lose Vermont Yankee power our electric rates would go up.”
Trouble is, Stoweflake’s utility is Stowe Electric, which gets zero energy from Vermont Yankee.
“Mr. Baraw is simply not telling the truth in Entergy’s ad. He should be ashamed of himself for trying to pull the wool over Vermonters’ eyes on behalf of a company that is still polluting Vermont’s water with radioactive tritium,” said Burns.
More misleading claims in Entergy’s campaign of corporate friends come from John Cueman of Bromley Mountain. He suggests that “nuclear power is clean” and that it “reduces the carbon footprint or keeps it low.” That’s perilously close to the very claim that Entergy confessed was “inaccurate” in 2008.
“With a reputation as damaged as Entergy’s, it’s no surprise that the company wants to have others speak for it,” noted Burns. “But Entergy Louisiana is still responsible for the content of these ads. The scare tactics, misleading claims and outright falsehoods contained in these ads demonstrate that this company still doesn’t get it.”
“One year after winning support from just 4 of the Senate’s 30 members, Entergy Louisiana just can’t shake its well-deserved reputation for leaks and lies,” Burns concluded.