At a Glance
- Career History: Staff Scientist, National Environmental Law Center; Staff Scientist, PIRGs' National Litigation Project
- Hometown: Woburn, Mass.
- Alma Mater: University of Massachusetts at Amherst, B.S. (physics), 1986; Massachusettes Institute of Technology, M.S. (environmental engineering), 1992
- Office: 218 D Street SE, Washington, DC 20003;(202) 683-1250
- Web site
Path to Power
Aurilio grew up in Woburn, Mass., which became infamous for corporate toxic waste dumping that made its way into groundwater, severely sickening some residents. The long legal battle over the issue was depicted in the best-selling book "A Civil Action" and the subsequent movie starring John Travolta. "When I was in high school, some of my colleagues were undergoing treatment for leukemia," Aurilio recalled.
Aurilio studied to become a scientist. She decided to become involved in environmental issues because "I quickly realized that the environment was one place where scientists were sorely needed."
Aurilio is one of the most frequently-quoted skeptics of the proposed expansion of U.S. nuclear power. Despite the nuclear industry's contention that its plants have become safer and more efficient since the 1979 Three Mile Island accident near Harrisburg, Pa., she said its use still presents a dangerous safety problem. She cites recent leaks of tritium at some reactor sites.
Aurilio also says that nuclear power isn't cost-effective and won't be able to address global warming in time to make a serious dent on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. "We're looking for the quickest, cheapest and cleanest way to cut global warming," she said. "When you look at nuclear power plants -- big, small, medium, plants of any size -- they're still a problem."
Aurilio works closely with a number of Democrats in Congress. Among them are House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts on energy issues. She also works with Arizona's Raul Grijalva on land-preservation issues and California's Lois Capps on oil drilling.
In the Senate, Aurilio's allies include Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer of California along with Oregon's Jeff Merkley, Vermont's Bernie Sanders and New Jersey's Robert Menendez.