National WAND/WiLL Conference Report Back

The Georgia delegation showed up strong to the National WiLL/WAND conference this year with a large representation from the state. Executive Director Lindsay Harper was asked to sit on a panel entitled The Environmental and Health Impact of Nuclear Weapons to discuss environmental justice and intersections of nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, and climate change in front of an audience of elected officials from around the country. 

From Left to Right: Moderator – Miranda Green, Reporter from The Hill, Sen. Sally Ann Gonzales (AZ), Kerry Allen, United States Senate, Senior Policy Advisor, Lindsay Harper, Executive Director, Georgia WAND

The delegation from Georgia was one of the largest and shared our intersectional message with elected officials on Capitol Hill. We discussed nuclear diplomacy, arms control, and explicit support for and extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction (START) Treaty. According to the State Department, both the U.S. and Russia are currently both compliant and the New START treaty should not be allowed to expire with nothing to replace it. It also provides intelligence on Russia’s nuclear weapons program and obtains the information at a cheaper price than if it was obtained outside the treaty. 

Left to Right: Phyllis Richardon, Georgia WAND Government Affairs Coordinator, Rep. Kim Schofield, Rep. Becky Evans, Rep. Park Cannon, Rep. Rhonda Bournough, Betsy Rivard, Georgia WAND/National WAND Board of Directors, Congressman Jim Clyburn staffer Willie Lyles, Lindsay Harper, Georgia WAND Executive Director, Sen. Nan Orrock, Dianne Valentin, Georgia WAND/National WAND Board President

We also shared information about the current and potential future environmental and health impacts on communities as a result of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) calling for new nuclear weapons. A modified Trident D5 missile with a W76-2 low-yield nuclear warhead has already been manufactured and will be deployed if Congress does not block the needed $29.6 million. This new warhead is dangerous and unnecessary. The U.S. already has many existing low-yield options including the B-61 variant and the Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM).

Lindsay Harper, Georgia WAND Executive Director, Sen. Nan Orrock, Edie Allen, National WAND Education Fund Board of Directors Secretary, and Sayre Sheldon, National WAND Board of Directors

Plans like these that support increased nuclear activity weapons facilities around the country are unacceptable.  Communities in Burke County and other counties downwind and downstream from both the Savannah River Site nuclear weapons complex and nuclear power Plant Vogtle have already been burdened by the health and environmental impacts of the legacy waste contamination from both facilities. The construction and proposed energy generation from Plant Vogtle will further exacerbate the existing compound and synergistic set of circumstances. 

We will continue working to educate and inform our elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels to push for adequate policy that supports thriving communities, healthy environments, and diplomacy.

For more information, please send an email to Phyllis Richardson, Government Affairs Coordinator, at Phyllis@GeorgiaWAND.org.