BRATTLEBORO -- Four more groups filed friend of the court briefs Monday, to support the state's appeal to overturn a recent federal ruling regarding legislative intent.
Sandra Levine, on behalf of Conservation Law Foundation, Vermont Natural Resources Council, New England Coalition and Vermont Public Interest Research Group, wrote that Judge J. Garvan Murtha's ruling wasn't made with all the facts.
In January, Murtha stated laws passed by the Legislature, which gave them the ability to deny the continued operation the state's only nuclear power plant, were done so with the intent to regulate radiological safety and were therefore preempted.
Levine wrote that Murtha's decision was based on "a small fraction of an incomplete and unreliable record of legislative testimony and fails to adequately examine the effects of the challenged statutes."
She continued, "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."
The state Legislature has "clear authority to determine whether to allow the continued operation of Vermont Yankee" and that its track record shows years of passing legislation in response to the public's desire to transition to renewable energy, she said.
"Act 74 and Act 160 are part of the ongoing legislative effort to rapidly transition the state to greater reliance on
Levine also points to the reactors troubled history as the validity of the lawmakers actions.
She wrote that since Entergy purchased the Vernon nuclear power plant in 2002 there's been "a steady stream of mishaps, misrepresentations and disappointments" which have "shattered Vermont's faith and trust in Vermont Yankee and its owners."
In 2007, the cooling towers at the plant collapsed, there were false statements given by Entergy officials to regulators, and there was a leak of tritiated water from pipes officials claimed weren't there, she said.
"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," Levine wrote.
On Monday, Vermont Yankee had another mishap when one of its two motor generator sets had an electrical failure and caused the plant to reduce its power output to about 36 percent.
The state's appeal also added a "heavy hitter line-up" as nine other states filed their briefs in support of Vermont.
Last week the states of New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire and Utah submitted a friend of the court brief urging the court to reject Murtha's decision, which would "severely limit the scope of states' traditional authority to regulate power utilities, including nuclear power plants."
Richard Watts, a professor at the University of Vermont and author of a new book about Vermont Yankee and its owners, said it's important for other states to realize how Murtha's decision could impact other state legislatures.
"When you're going up against the best lawyers money can buy, having some strong state allies seems like a good strategy," Watts said. "Clearly the issue of state's rights when it comes to power plants if of critical importance, because it's about more than nuclear power."
Josh Stilts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.