Thursday, January 17, 2013

Unique Request: Opponent Wants Vermont Supreme Court to Rule before PSB Rules

Vermont Supreme Court
In Three Vermont Yankee Hearings: The Week of Living Lawyerly, I described the three hearings about Vermont Yankee that are happening in three different courts this week. The second hearing took place yesterday, in front of the Vermont Supreme Court.

Stepping on the Process

An anti-nuclear group, NEC (New England Coalition Against Nuclear Pollution) asked the Supreme Court to shut down Vermont Yankee even while the Public Service Board holds hearings about granting Vermont Yankee a Certificate of Public Good.  Andrew Stein of Vermont Digger wrote about the hearing in Anti-nuclear group petitions the Vermont Supreme Court to shut down Vermont Yankee.  At VPR, John Dillon wrote Entergy Asks Court to Dismiss Attempt to Shut Down Yankee.   That article ends with the comment that It's likely the high court will rule fairly quickly on Entergy's motion to dismiss.

I have blogged about this case extensively, most recently in the post Hot Potato Continued: Federal Court Turns Down Entergy Injunction Request.   I said that I thought the Public Service Board was happy to see you (NEC) and him (Entergy) fight in another venue, and leave them (the Public Service Board) out of the picture and off the hot seat.

An Appeal Before the Ruling?

But the main question is simple: groups usually appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court when a lower court or judicial board (like the Public Service Board) has ruled against them.  I have never before heard of a group jumping the gun and bringing a case to the Supreme Court while the lower court is still deliberating.  It's odd.  Actually, it's unique, as described in the WCAX video clip by Jennifer Reading.

Will the Vermont Supreme Court step in, step on, and step over the Public Service Board process?

If the Supreme Court acts now, it would be a very bad precedent for hearings before all other lower courts and judicial boards. That's my opinion, but only time will tell how the Vermont Supreme Court will rule.


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Background

There are three hearings about Vermont Yankee this week.

The first hearing was Monday in federal court. This was a hearing in the Federal Court of Appeals in New York City. In this hearing, the State of Vermont attempted to convince the court that they were not concerned with nuclear safety, a federally pre-empted subject, but merely with economics.  Vermont claims that it wants to shut the plant down for economic reasons.  Since the plant contributes greatly to the state prosperity (and the state tax coffers), this argument was completely backward.  I blogged about it in Vermont Yankee: State Claims Economic Argument for Closing Plant. 

This post describes the second hearing, before the Vermont Supreme Court. Also, I have posted a few of the documents in the Supreme Court case at the Energy Education Project site.

The third hearing was today, before the Public Service Board, on the question of whether or not Vermont Yankee will be allowed to buy a back-up diesel generator.


1 comment:

Mary Gerdt said...

Lawyering is a difficult process to watch sometimes for bystanders whose taxes fund untested argument.Great report on a complex issue! have a great day! mary