Former VPIRG Trustee and current Assistant Research Professor at the UVM, Richard Watts, Ph.D., blogs from the Federal Court House in New York City.
Monday, January 14th, 2013
At a few minutes before 10:00, the court room on the 17th Floor of the Federal Court House in Manhattan fell silent. More than 80 dark-suited (mostly) lawyers and observers turned quiet as they waited to hear the arguments in the latest round of Entergy et al. v. Vermont et al this cool New York City morning January 14.
After the judges entered and the court was called to order, there was a moment, fittingly, when four Vermont journalists were allowed to take photos (see VT Digger and Vermont Public Radio). Then the action was fast and furious. Over the next 37 minutes, the two hired guns; Kathleen Sullivan for Entergy and David Frederick representing Vermont, argued clearly and passionately, responding to the frequent interruptions with aplomb, disagreeing politely with the judges and quoting legal rulings with ease. The bespectacled Frederick used his hands sparingly, Sullivan’s gestures were expansive – despite the high stakes, both clearly comfortable in the dark-paneled court room.
How did it come to this, a court room on the 17th floor of a massive federal building hundreds of miles from Vermont? I joined a group of other Vermonters who traveled to watch the oral arguments before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. I wanted to continue to explore the question of how a plant that provided more than one-third of the state’ s electricity for over 40 years went from valued asset to pariah – at odds with state regulators, the state’s governor and state policy-makers. Many other Vermonters made the trip; Attorney-General Bill Sorrell and his legal team, CLF’s Sandra Levine and advocates representing Entergy, Beyond Nuclear and the Citizen Awareness Network. The Vermont press turned out in numbers; Vermont Public Radio; WPTZ and WCAX and VT Digger among others.