Entergy plans to sell Vermont Yankee to NorthStar for decommissioning. As you can imagine, this plan has led to lots of discussions and hearings, and I have even written a few blog posts about it.
The last time I wrote about this proposed sale was right before the April 12 hearing before the Vermont PUC. (Thursday Meeting on Sale of Vermont Yankee) In March, all parties (state agencies, Native American tribes, intervenors) signed off on the agreement between Entergy and NorthStar, as detailed by Mike Faher at Vermont Digger. (State, NorthStar strike deal for sale of Vermont Yankee). At the April 12 hearing, supporters of the sale were clearly in the majority. Supporters dominate meeting on sale of Vermont Yankee. (Article by Faher)
Oh, did I say "all parties" had signed off on the agreement? Wrong. My bad. The Conservation Law Foundation refused to sign the agreement. In March, I predicted that CLF would do everything in their power to make the sale fall through. I was right.
This reminds me of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, where fairies are giving their gifts to a newborn princess, but one fairy feels slighted. That fairy's gift is a curse: the young princess will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. Another fairy partially reverses the curse. The girl will fall asleep for 100 years instead of dying. Thus begins the story of Sleeping Beauty.
CLF is planning something similar. I don't know if they actually feel slighted, but I think they sure plan to kill the deal. If they succeed, like the girl in Sleeping Beauty, the VY power plant will be in SafStor for many many years. Sixty years. The economic development of the town will sleep for more than a generation.
The people of southern Vermont and the people of Vernon want a clean site and a new employer in Vermont. They are hoping this change will happen soon, not sixty years from now. But when a powerful creature like CLF feels slighted, what are you going to do? A creature like that can stop time.
|She pricked her finger on the spindle|
Art by Anne Anderson
Okay, all that was just a metaphor. CLF is not a magical evil creature. And it is not unstoppable. Basically, CLF is a not-for-profit law firm (Conservation Law Foundation) and an associated "Ventures" group.
CLF claims that the companies involved in the VY sale have not released "even a page of their contract to the public." CLF also admits that they could have read the contract by signing a non-disclosure form, but they claim that such an agreement would be onerous and unnecessary. ( Mike Faher article in Vermont Digger Conservation Law Foundation details Vermont Yankee concerns.)
Transparency and soap
Guy Page, a frequent guest blogger at this blog, has been following the sale closely. Like me, Page cannot understand why CLF (a bunch of lawyers, after all) won't sign a non-disclosure in order to obtain more information about the sale. I will not attempt to equal Page's excellent commentary in Vermont Digger: Where most see opportunity, CLF sees only problems with VY sale. However, I will quote him.
CLF’s knowledge of NorthStar’s plan is limited, due to its choice not to sign a non-disclosure statement protecting certain contract information. If CLF was truly concerned about transparency, it shouldn’t have soaped its side of the window.-----
A side note about CLF Ventures
Aside: I have never understood the relationship between the main CLF and their Ventures. CLF is a not-for-profit 501c3, and they make their form 990 readily available. 501c3 organizations generally have educational or charitable purposes, which can include advocacy under the "educational" purpose.
CLF Ventures seems to be a part of the main CLF, and it is described under the Our Focus section of the CLF website. Still, the work CLF does as "Ventures" seems pretty much like the work other law firms do for for-profit companies. For example, here is a quote from the CLF website: "CLF Ventures helps early stage companies gain access to the market through our unique blend of experience. We use private and public networks, our knowledge of the business, market, and regulatory arenas, and our understanding of key gatekeepers to help early stage companies access markets and generate revenues."
Helping companies "generate revenues"? Is this service also a part of the not-for-profit CLF 501c3? I can't tell from their website: such services may be part of the main CLF, or not. The website doesn't make it easy to understand the relationship between the two (or maybe just one) entities, CLF and CLF Ventures. It is not transparent. End Aside.