On a freezing night in December, about a dozen climate activists stood on the train tracks in a wooded section of West Boylston, Mass. They huddled together, headlamps and flashlights pointing south towards an approaching coal train. The light from the train’s headlights got brighter, and the horns blared louder and longer, but the activists…

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Heather Brandon used to drive from her home in Hartford, Connecticut, to work in Springfield, Massachusetts. It would take her anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic. But this summer, she committed to taking the train. Producer Morgan Springer talked to her about the commute while Brandon, who works at New England…

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Future? In Massachusetts, nuclear power is history. Last spring, Massachusetts’ last nuclear power plant — Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station — shut down after nearly 50 years. Repairing the aging plant was too expensive, and it couldn’t compete against cheap natural gas. Nuclear opponents like Mary Lampert, founder of the citizens’ group Pilgrim Watch, say “good…

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The Plymouth Rock portico looks out across the Plymouth Bay to Rocky Point, the location of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. Photo by Robin Lubbock for WBUR

Beneath a towering granite pavilion, in the smallest state park in Massachusetts, is an unassuming gray boulder with outsized historic and economic importance: Plymouth Rock. The Rock draws a million visitors a year. Tourism is a powerful economic engine for Plymouth, employing 4,000 workers and generating $30 million annually in local taxes.

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Spent fuel at Vermont Yankee is stored in these casks. NorthStar, the company that wants to buy the closed plant, recently boosted its financial plan to pay for fuel storage. Photo courtesy of Vermont Yankee

At the end of May, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth will permanently shut down. Forty-six years ago it began generating electricity, high-paying jobs and intense controversy over safety and environmental impact. Pilgrim went into service just one day after its sister plant: Vermont Yankee. Both reactors were the same make and model: a GE Mark I reactor. And since 2002, they have been operated by the same company: Entergy.

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