VPIRG weighs in on VY Appeal

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Amicus (Friend of the Court) brief filed today in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Conservation Law Foundation, New England Coalition, Vermont Natural Resources Council and Vermont Public Interest Research Group in support of the State’s appeal to overturn the decision of Judge Murtha is now available for download here.

The Vermont Legislature has clear authority to determine whether to allow the continued operation of Vermont Yankee.  The laws passed by the Vermont Legislature do not conflict with federal law and are part of a decade of energy legislation focused on moving Vermont’s power supply away from older and more polluting power sources, like Vermont Yankee.  (pgs 11, 17, 19,28)

“The Legislature’s track record shows that the Vermont Legislature has been passing energy legislation for years in response to constituents’ strong support for transitioning to renewable energy. Vermont engaged in the legitimate exercise of its traditional authority over power planning, including the future use of nuclear power plants. Vermont’s purposes, including planning, economics and reliability, are not only plausible, but show how the General Assembly has been preparing for the eventual closure of Vermont Yankee, whether in 2012 or thereafter, by enacting legislation, including Act 74 and Act 160, to assure that Vermont will be able to timely transition to an economical and environmentally sustainable energy supply” (pg 19)

Vermont Yankee’s troubled history also shows the validity of the Legislature’s actions.  “Since Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee (Entergy) purchased the Vermont Yankee facility in 2002, a steady stream of mishaps, misrepresentations and disappointments shattered Vermont’s faith and trust in Vermont Yankee and its owners. From the failure to make any contributions to the decommissioning fund, followed by the collapse of the cooling towers in 2007, the proposed “spin off” of the plant to a highly leveraged subsidiary, the false statements to regulators and the broken promises of a power contract that never materialized, Entergy’s actions have had what an Entergy executive described as a “corrosive effect” on the relationships needed to maintain a major electric generating facility within the State.” (Pg 5).   “These events evidence the untrustworthiness and lack of credibility in Entergy management that precluded the Vermont Legislature from affirming a continued business relationship with Entergy.” (Pg 23)

As organizations that have been involved in matters concerning energy legislation and Vermont Yankee for decades, our brief provides the Court with the perspective of how Vermont’s laws are part of Vermont’s broader efforts to responsibly manage energy supply.  The court’s decision focused only on a few snippets of testimony. There is a much longer history here. Vermont Yankee is a tired old nuclear plant and its owners are untrustworthy. Our brief shows that Vermont’s actions are authorized and reasonable.