Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Diesel Case in Federal Court

Yesterday, Vermont Yankee appeared in federal court in order to get permission to put in a safety diesel.  The Public Service Board has been delaying even considering the diesel docket.  They delayed for months and wrote all sorts of complex opinions about whether they would consider the diesel docket: "compliance with other orders" and so forth.

Yes, the whole court case is a bit I said in my blog post yesterday:   In my opinion, these court cases could have been avoided if the Public Service Board just knew how to spell "pre-empted." Emergency diesels are clearly safety equipment, and adding safety equipment is clearly the business of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, not the state.  The state cannot regulate nuclear safety: it's pre-empted.

Summary of the Arguments in Court

Vermont Yankee arguments: Vermont Yankee argued that the state had no business interfering with nuclear safety.

State arguments: The state argued that Vermont Yankee could put in the diesel more quickly than they claimed they could put it in.  Therefore, there was no reason for them to be in court: they could  wait for the PSB to rule.

  • The judge rejected this argument: what if the PSB rules the other way? We might as well hear the case now, actually. (from VPR report on the hearing)
  • Cheryl Hanna (Vermont Law Professor) reported that the state spent two hours examining an Entergy witness about project scheduling for the diesel. She noted that this whole line of questioning was somewhat off the point. (from Vermont Digger report and WCAX video on the hearing)

Various intervenors: They now claim that Vermont Yankee is wasting court time, since the PSB is sure to rule in their favor anyway.  Of course, these intervenors themselves bring lawsuit after lawsuit against Vermont Yankee. (from VPR report on the hearing).

My Opinion:

Snark opinion: Funny how the PSB issued threatening statements and ambiguous statements ("not in compliance with other orders" and "this order is narrow" and so forth) until Vermont Yankee sued.

Sad opinion: Cheryl Hanna of Vermont Law School talks about how polarized and angry the entire situation is, and how there are five on-going law suits about Vermont Yankee. (WCAX video clip below).   It didn't have to be this way.  It really didn't.

Governor Peter Shumlin vowed to close Vermont Yankee. In my opinion, he did this in order to retain his support with the Progressive Party. His political ambitions led pretty directly to all this hatred.  Yes, there were people opposed to nuclear power and Vermont Yankee before Shumlin ran for office, but Shumlin made it much worse.  He marginalized the people at Vermont Yankee (for example, his deliberate and planned use of the term "Entergy Louisiana") and he aimed at costing them their jobs. They are fighting back. There's a lot of anger there, and it didn't have to be this way.  (I encourage you to watch the Cheryl Hanna video below and listen to what she says about polarization.)

  WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-


Travelogue for the Universe said...

My haiku appropriate: Lawyering: back and forth they go, poor folks suffer losing time, property all gone. Thanks Meredith for this true reporting. Have a great day.Mary

Joffan said...

Oooh, haikus.

Power is the key
Useful electricity
Useless politics

Vermont can't believe
control of Yankee safety
is out of its hands.

Court cases galore
argue the same points again
to little purpose