As the battle over Vermont Yankee’s future is waged, Conservation Law Foundation and VPIRG seek to join as a friend of the court, or amicus for this first stage. CLF will use the expertise gained in opposing Yankee’s continued operation before the PSB to bolster the argument that Yankee’s a long track record of failures preclude the Court from allowing continued operation. Entergy would love to characterize their re-licensing as a guarantee to operate past 2012. However, CLF points out that their federal court challenge to the license over Entergy’s failure to obtain a necessary Clean Water Act certification makes the license itself uncertain.
CLF urges the Court not to allow Entergy to usurp Vermont law and walk away from their legal obligations. The false testimony, leaks and bad economics of continued operation are ample justification for Vermont to refuse to grant a new certificate to operate for another twenty years. In 2009 Entergy officials gave false testimony about the existence of underground pipes that were later found to be leaking radioactive tritium. As CLF’s brief states: “If land surveyors, architects, plumbers and physicians assistants can lose or be denied a license for making a material misrepresentation, less cannot be expected or required of nuclear facility operators. The false testimony that Entergy officials provided under oath calls into question the ability of the plant operator to meet its legal obligations.”
The state of Vermont swung back in its reply brief last week with a laundry list of reasons the court should dismiss Entergy’s request to continue operating during the trial, or a “preliminary injunction”. Because Entergy agreed to seek Public Service Board (PSB) approval, and not challenge PSB authority in court, the state argues Entergy is bound by their agreement. Also, the state suggests it is inappropriate for Entergy to object to PSB oversight at such a late hour, long after they received the benefit of doing business in Vermont under this agreement since 2002.
The state railed against Entergy’s argument that federal law supersedes state regulation over the aging plant. Vermont argues that, with the exception of radiation safety, states have authority over nuclear in many areas such as, “economics, land use, policy questions regarding a state’s energy future, and whether a corporation running a nuclear power plant has established itself as a trustworthy business partner.” Thus, the state argues that regulation over nuclear was never meant to preempt state law altogether.
Both Entergy and the state of Vermont will have a chance to argue on the preliminary injunction motion before United States District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha on June 22-24.