House Overwhelmingly Advances Yankee Decommissioning Bill
04/14/10 9:37AM By John Dillon
(Host) The House has overwhelmingly approved a bill that requires Entergy Vermont Yankee to eventually clean up the site of the Vernon reactor.
The bill says Entergy must set aside $20 million dollars in a new fund to pay for restoring the site to a "green field" that could be used for other purposes, such as a new power plant.
Bennington Republican Joe Krawczyk is vice chairman of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee.(Krawczyk) "And the overall goal was to make sure that when Vermont Yankee is decommissioned beginning in 2012 that there will be no expense to the taxpayers and ratepayers of Vermont. And that was very important."
(Host) Previous decommissioning bills were opposed by many Republicans and were vetoed by Governor Jim Douglas. But this bill advanced on a 139 to nothing vote, and Douglas has indicated his support.
Some opponents of Vermont Yankee say the bill is weak legislation that may actually help the nuclear plant make its case. Yankee wants to operate for another 20 years past its scheduled 2012 shutdown date.
Bob Stannard is a lobbyist for the Citizens Action Network, which opposes a new license for Vermont Yankee.
(Stannard) "In the rare moments in this building when you see a unanimous vote like you see today on this bill, it says that either the bill is acknowledging Mother's Day or a bill has been so watered down that it's palatable to everybody."
(Host) Stannard says the legislation will be used by Yankee proponents to argue that a number of outstanding issues have been taken care of - including resolving a radiation leak and disciplining company officials who misled state regulators.
But Republican Representative Krawczyk said Yankee still hasn't convinced him that the plant should run for another 20 years.
(Krawczyk) "The analogy I use with everybody, they say what about continued operation? I say, ‘You know, it's like a 10-year-old car: If the brakes go out, you fix it. If the muffler gets a leak, you change it. But if the transmission goes out, you might want to see a new car dealer and get some new transmission.' I say, ‘Right now, in my opinion, if the transmission is not gone, it's probably leaking.'"
(Host) The bill needs final approval in the House and then moves to the Senate.