Shumlin on Jenkins, jobs and fracking

Gov. Peter Shumlin’s press conference on Wednesday covered everything from the shocking murder of a school teacher in northeastern Vermont to the question of whether a job at a nuclear plant is a “green” job. Here are some snippets.

JOBS: The governor took a two-pronged approach to trumpeting the brightening jobs picture in Vermont. First, he pointed to the Vermont Department of Labor numbers showing the unemployment rate dropped below 5 percent for the first time since 2008. It hit 4.9 percent for February.

He also touted a report from the U.S. Department of Labor showing that Vermont has the highest proportion of green employment, more than any other state with nearly 13,000 jobs.

But wait, does that figure include the roughly 600 positions at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant that Shumlin has worked so hard to shut down?

It does.

Shumlin doesn’t consider those nuclear jobs green.

“If you lived where I live and you had the question of a high-level nuclear waste dump in your backyard with thousands and thousands of years of radioactive life, we have a hard time in Windham County being convinced that those are clean, green jobs,” said Shumlin.

But he also argued the inclusion of nuclear jobs doesn’t mean the green jobs report he was touting that ranked Vermont so high is flawed.

JENKINS MURDER: Shumlin said Melissa Jenkins, the 33-year-old St. Johnsbury woman found dead this week, was the “model of a good mother.”

“This unspeakably horrid tragedy is so unlike what we expect in Vermont, and I just want to join all Vermonters in sending her family our love and support in this difficult time,” said Shumlin, who also commended police for their work on the investigation.

FRACKING: The Vermont House passed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, the controversial practice used to extract natural gas. The Senate took testimony on so-called “fracking” Wednesday.

Some advocates want an outright ban rather than a moratorium, but Shumlin hasn’t given much thought to the moratorium vs. ban question.

“I haven’t given it a lot of thought knowing that Vermont doesn’t have too much gas to frack for, and I intend to focus on things that are actually relevant to Vermont,” he said.

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