Sunday, June 5, 2011

A New Blog at Vermont Law School

The Announcement

Two days ago, Vermont Law School (VLS) announced they were starting a blog about the Vermont Yankee law suit. The announcement was quickly picked up by the Burlington Free Press, and you can read the Law School blog here. I have also added it to my blog roll.

As a blogger, I would call it a weak blog. That is not a comment on the views expressed but on the shallowness of the blogging. There' s one blog post by Pat Parentau, there's a reprint of a Vermont Public Radio interview with Entergy's lawyer, Cheryl Hanna, and there are links to several posts by Donald Kreis. These posts previously appeared in Vermont Digger: the most recent of these posts is An Inconvenient Truth: Entergy Might Win.

I feel as if someone at VLS said: "You know, we should be blogging about that lawsuit. We've been advising the legislature about it forever, so we should really get out there with a blog." So they threw some old posts together, and presto, a blog!

Radio Mistakes

So far, the VLS blog doesn't have much value-added, but that may improve. Pat Parentau's post is new content, at least. I find Parentau's arguments a bit muddy. However, I am also prejudiced by the fact that he made so many mistakes on a radio show recently.

Parentau was on WCFR on May 5, along with some friends of mine such as John McClaughry. On that show, Parentau claimed that several things had "disillusioned" Vermonters and caused Vermont to pass Act 160. (Act 160 took power from the Public Service Board and gave it to the legislature.)

According to Parentau, three things that caused the legislature to pass Act 160 were:
  • the cooling tower collapse (2007),
  • the tritium leak (2010)
  • the "lies" about the underground pipes (2009).
However, Act 160 was passed in 2006, before any of these things happened!

I have a hard time taking a person seriously when he has the event sequence completely backwards. I couldn't believe my ears, and had to check with other people who were listening to the radio program. Did Parentau really say those things? The other people said that they heard what I had heard. However, I hope that WCFR posts a tape or transcript of the show so I can check further.

The VLS Blog Could Be Good

VLS started a blog. It isn't very good. So why do I care?

The problem is that the lawsuit situation in Vermont is getting out of hand. Lawsuits are breeding like rabbits--the kind of rabbits that live where there aren't enough natural predators. I want to blog about the lawsuits, but I am feeling overwhelmed by the number of legal actions (and by the fact that I'm a not a lawyer, I'm a chemist). Here's a list of existing lawsuits as I understand them now.
  • The main Entergy lawsuit against Vermont
  • The Entergy request for injunction, so that Vermont does not take action while the main lawsuit is pending
  • Vermont's answer to the request for injunction.
  • Massachusetts joining the main lawsuit on the side of Vermont.
  • Various groups (VPIRG, NEC, CLF) attempting to enter the main Entergy lawsuit on the side of Vermont (as intervenors) and being turned down by the court.
  • The same groups filing Amicus Curiae briefs.
  • A separate lawsuit claiming that Entergy didn't apply for a water quality permit. This lawsuit is against Entergy, brought by another state agency in Vermont.
  • Various groups bringing actions against the NRC, saying that they shouldn't have given Entergy a license extension because of the supposed lack of water permit, or Fukushima, or something. I lose track of these anti-NRC actions very easily. They come so fast and furious around here.
There's more. The Attorney General of Vermont is preparing some kind of suit about the piping. Just a bit late, hey? Also, I think the state passed a Bill of Attainder against Entergy and I want to blog about that.

I would welcome a respectable blog by lawyers about the Vermont Yankee legal situation, even though the VLS lawyers are on the other side of the fence. What I see is something quite different. The VLS blog is a "we should be blogging, right?" blog, practically devoid of content, except for reprints of old articles.

Oh well. I think it is going to be up to me to blog about all these rabbits--I mean, all these lawsuits. I hope the VLS blog can become useful, but so far...well, not really.


Joffan said...

On the VLS VY "blog", so, they've changed all their internal links and your direct article links no longer get anywhere useful. Friendly devils. And I don't see any space for comments.

On Pat Parentau's article, considering "Likelihood of Success" of the main lawsuit, he neglects the obvious fact that the MOU specifically acknowledges the PSB authority to decide on a Certificate of Public Good. Such a decision. Stopping the PSB from even considering its decision is definitely outside what was agreed. It is also hard to ignore the implication that the PSB's independent technical authority to make any such decision in future has been gravely compromised by the action of the legislature.

Why did Entergy act when it did? For me the answer seems to be the issuance of the NRC licence extension - which itself was unreasonably delayed.

Overall, however, the injunction is harder to call. If there were any guarantee that a particular timeframe would be adhered to in the hearing, I would be inclined to say that it is unnecessary; but winning by delay is a tactic neither new nor uncommon.

Meredith Angwin said...

Joffan. Thanks for the headsup about the links! I made those links last night, when when I began writing the post!

I agree with you. I believe Entergy acted after it received the license renewal. I think they also waited until the legislature was just out of session. Nobody can say: "Hey, you Entergy guys didn't need to SUE us. After all we were just about to vote."

Meredith Angwin said...

Joffan. Links work now. Thanks again.

Frank Jablonski said...

Meredith -

I am a lawyer, although I have not looked at the original papers.

Bulleted items 1 - 6 in your list all likely arise in the single original lawsuit. Lots of counterposed activities can occur, and often must occur, in a single lawsuit. Of course, interested organizations like to join in, or try to, when the lawsuit in question involves nuclear energy.

If an organization doesn't get to become a "party," to the lawsuit, or the question of whether they get to become a party is not yet decided by the court, then the organization may well file Amicus briefs in an effort to get their perspective/analysis before the court, even though they are not a "party."

The 7th item is probably separate, as are the ones identified in the final bullet.

Meredith Angwin said...

Frank Jablonski: Thank you for the thoughtful comment. You are right (of course, being a lawyer!) that the first items are legal actions within one major lawsuit, while the later items are separate. The actions get reported separately in the newspapers. I appreciate your input. I will be more careful to distinguish activities within one lawsuit from actual separate lawsuits.