State of Vermont makes its case against Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee at 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals
The fate of the State of Vermont's long struggle to shutdown Entergy Nuclear's Vermont Yankee (VY) atomic reactor (a General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor, identical in design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4) now rests in the hands of a three-judge panel at the 2nd Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in Manhattan. Yesterday, oral arguments were heard regarding Entergy v. Shumlin et al.Vermont is seeking to overturn a Brattleboro lower court judge's ruling a year ago that state laws had improperly strayed into radiological safety matters, the sole jurisdiction of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as settled by the 1983 PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric) U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In addition to a large turn out of journalists from Vermont and beyond, a number of long-time Vermont Yankee opponents sent representatives to witness the proceeding, including Beyond Nuclear, Conservation Law Foundation, Citizen Awareness Network (CAN), Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance (VYDA). By most accounts, the State of Vermont --represented by Attorney General William Sorrell, and David Frederick of the Washington, D.C. law firm Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, P.L.L.C. (see photo) -- more than held its own.
In March 2011, just days after the nuclear catastrophe began to unfold at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission rubberstamped a 20-year license extension at VY. This came despite a Feb. 2010 vote of 26 to 4 by the State of Vermont Senate, led by Senator Pro Tem (now Governor) Peter Shumlin, that blocked VY's license extension.
Richard Watts (who took the photo above), author of Public Meltdown: The Story of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, covered the oral arguments on his blog. The Vermont Digger reported on this story, including a link to the audio of the full 37 minute long oral arguments. Vermont Public Radio filed two stories: "At Stake in Yankee Appeal: State's Rights and a Big Legal Bill," and "Appeals Judges Focus on 'Legislative Intent' in Yankee Case." The Associated Press, Burlington Free Press, Brattleboro Reformer, and Bloomberg have also reported on this story.
And, as reported by the Associated Press, Entergy was back in court on Wednesday, this time before the Vermont Supreme Court. The New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution requests that the Vermont Supreme Court order Entergy Vermont Yankee to shutdown, for lack of a Certificate of Public Good (CPG). Its old CPG expired, along with its original 40 year operating license, on March 21, 2012. The State of Vermont Public Service Board has yet to approve a new CPG for VY's continued operation.