State responds to Entergy's appeal

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BRATTLEBORO -- Vermont's Attorney General says Entergy shouldn't be able to appeal a recent federal judge's decision and called the motion "premature" and "unnecessary."

In January, Judge J. Garvan Murtha ruled that legislation passed by the state to prevent the continued operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant infringed upon federal jurisdiction.

The state has since appealed Murtha's decision in its entirety, but Entergy officials said they too want his ruling appealed, but only a small part.

The judge's ruling stated that for the nuclear plant to operate past its original 40-year license, it needed a revised or new certificate of public good issued from the state's Public Service Board.

According to Murtha's ruling, Entergy is required to obtain a renewed CPG from the PSB for storage of spent nuclear fuel from operations past March 21.

On Jan. 31, Entergy officials filed a motion with the PSB to immediately grant the pending CPG to authorize Vermont Yankee to continue to operate after March 21 stating that the record was "fully sufficient."

Earlier this week the Department of Public Service, Entergy and other parties filed comments with the Public Service Board.

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During that meeting, board members stated Entergy could continue to operate the plant under the current certificate of public good pending the resolution of its petition, which could take days, weeks or months.

"Entergy does not face imminent threat that Vermont Yankee will be forced to close later this month," the document states.

It also states, "the fact that the (PSB) asked questions does not provide a basis for re-opening a final judgment and granting broad new injunctive relief. The court's intervention now would undermine the (PSB's) authority over the CPG proceeding."

Vermont's attorneys argued that Entergy's officials' motion can't show that any action the PSB could take would violate federal law.

"Instead of engaging in the (PSB's) process, Entergy tried to stop that process and immediately came back to this court to ask for an expanded injunction," Vermont's attorneys wrote. "Entergy has made sweeping and unfounded assertions about the scope of the Court's ruling, suggesting for example that the (PSB) may not consider Entergy's inaccurate testimony in past proceedings or Entergy's trustworthiness."

If Entergy's appeal was granted, the plant could fail to comply with its thermal discharge permit, the company could fail to pay taxes or violate other state laws never addressed in the lawsuit it filed, the document states.

By doing so, the court would be granting relief that "essentially gives Entergy immunity from all state regulation," Vermont's attorneys argued.

Josh Stilts can be reached at jstilts@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.


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