Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Piping Conversation RESTORED

This post used to be titled The Piping Conversation Interrupted, and described a conversation about piping that mysteriously disappeared from the Vermont Digger web site.

I am happy to say the conversation is back! Don just emailed me that Vermont Digger had taken the conversation down by mistake. It's back!

A brief summary of the conversation below, and a hearty thanks to Don Kreis and Vermont Digger. I am deeply pleased that the Digger made a mistake and was not practicing any kind of censorship.


In a recent post, An Amazing Conversation, I referred readers to a post and conversation on Vermont Digger. On the Vermont Digger web site, Professor Donald Kreis of Vermont Law School and I discussed various things about how Entergy had supplied information to its oversight panels. We disagreed.

Among other things, Don and I debated whether or not it was appropriate for utilities to give relatively limited answers to utility commissions and oversight groups. I felt that any lawyer would encourage limited answers to hostile questions, and Professor Kreis felt that utilities should freely and openly help their regulators by volunteering information.

However, in the course of the conversation, Don admitted that utilities rarely actually volunteer information. Not just in the case of Vermont Yankee, but in general. Utility regulators have to ask specific questions to get specific answers, just as happens in a legal proceeding.

As Kreis described the situation, a good lawyer will instruct a witness before that witness faces cross examination. The usual instruction goes like this: "If you are wearing a watch, and the opposing counsel asks if you know what time it is, you answer 'yes.' "

The question you know? the answer is...yes. You do not volunteer even the time of day. Answer the question truthfully, and don't volunteer anything else.

Don and I agreed that it was a shame that utilities and regulators acted like opposing counsel, but in fact, they do. All over the country.

Whichever side of this debate you take, it was VERY civilized and made me feel good about have a conversation with a literate, witty person, Don Kreis. Yes, Don is generally in opposition to Vermont Yankee license continuance.

Thank you to Don and Vermont Digger for the excellent debate. Without a trace of censorship.

The illustration is the cover of Milton's Aeropagitica, published in 1644. In this document, Milton argues for free speech and individual conscience.

1 comment:

David said...

Too bad, but I am not surprised. This type of closing off of a conversation - especially an intelligent, articulate one, seems common these days.

It is an attempt to marginalize. But we are only marginalized if we allow ourselves to be relegated to the margins. Keep going!