About a week ago, on May 21, I blogged about the fact that Vermont Yankee needs another back-up diesel, and the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) has been dragging its feet about giving permission to install that diesel. Entergy has an NRC deadline to install the diesel, and therefore, Entergy sued the PSB in federal court. The court hearing is scheduled for June 4, which is Tuesday, and coming up fast.
By denying the diesel permit, the PSB is interfering with nuclear safety, an area of federal jurisdiction. My post was A Court Case With A Deadline: The Black Start Diesels.
That post included the "Breaking News" that the PSB hearing officer for the diesel docket had recommended that PSB grant the permit for the diesel. The Department of Public Service also supports granting the permit for the diesel. Here's a link to the Vermont Digger article by Andrew Stein on these recommendations that the PSB approve the diesel.
However, these were only recommendations. The PSB itself did not rule on this matter. The Vermont Digger article quoted Jim Sinclair of Entergy: “While we appreciate and agree with the hearing officer’s recommendation, we remain uncertain as to when the Board will rule,” he said. “Therefore, we will have to determine how this may affect the federal court hearing.”
Will the PSB Rule? Time Passes
The Vermont Digger article appeared on May 20, and the hearing is June 4. I'll be blunt. I was waiting for the PSB to make a statement. I thought PSB might say:
- "We agree with our hearing officer and here's your diesel permit. "
- "To heck with our hearing officer's recommendations. We don't hand out diesel permits to outfits like you, and we'll see you in court."
I waited. I wanted to write a blog post about this, as soon as there was some news.
Sherlock Holmes and Me
Then I realized that the lack of news--is also news! Non-action is also information.
To quote Sherlock Holmes:
"You consider that to be important?" he [Inspector Gregory] asked.
"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1893) : Silver Blaze
In the Holmes case, the fact the "dog did nothing in the night-time" means that a stranger did not commit the crime. If a stranger had been there, the dog would have barked. Holmes concluded that the crime was an inside job.
To me, the fact that the PSB has done nothing means that they are happy to go to court June 4, even though (IMHO) they are pretty sure to lose on this one. In my opinion, this shows they are heavily influenced by politics. I think that the more often the PSB is in court, the more political credibility they think they have with the Shumlin administration and the Vermont legislature: We TRIED to shut that plant down! We really did. They sued us all the time, but we kept trying.
A political agenda is the best explanation I can come up with. I welcome readers' comments with other explanations.
Will Davis and Me
And here's a comment to start you off! Will Davis hosted the most recent nuclear blog Carnival at his Atomic Power Review site. The Carnival included a link to my post about the diesels, and Will Davis had this to say about it:
I think that says it all. I hope to receive more comments, but it will be hard to beat Davis's pithy comment.
And Yet Another Lawsuit
In related news, a group of intervenors just sued the PSB in Vermont Supreme Court, claiming the PSB should "enforce their own orders" and close the plant. Here's the May 25 article by Bob Audette in the Brattleboro Reformer on that suit: Groups Ask Vermont Court to Affirm PSB Rulings on VY.
This suit bears an uncanny resemblance to a lawsuit the Vermont Supreme Court turned down in March of this year. Here's the Andrew Stein article in Vermont Digger on March 28: Vermont Supreme Court Denies New England Coalition's Petition to Close Vermont Yankee. Or, as I blogged on March 28 in Court Won't Close Plant During PSB Hearings. Since the Vermont Yankee matter is active in both federal court and the PSB, the Vermont Supreme Court is unlikely to get involved. Courts don't like to step on each other's toes.
Frankly, I don't get this intervenor latest suit. It looks frivolous to me: it looks like the same contentions as the lawsuit in March. Why are they doing this? However, I freely admit I am not a lawyer, so there may be a reason. Once again, comments are welcome.