DOCUMENT: Judge Garvan Murtha's Decision

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Judge Says Federal Law Pre-empts State's Effort To Close Yankee

01/19/12 4:20PM VPR Staff
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Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon. A federal judge has ruled that Vermont doesn't have the authority to force the plant to shut down.

A federal judge ruled in favor of Entergy Nuclear on Thursday in its lawsuit over the continued operation of the Vermont Yankee plant.

Judge Garvan Murtha's decision effectively means the state cannot force the plant in Vernon to shut down in March, as Gov. Peter Shumlin wants to do.

The judge says federal law pre-empts the state's ability to determine the licensing of a nuclear power plant. In his decision, he writes that the "Legislature's motivation (was) to regulate radiological safety," which, he says, the state is not authorized to do.

In a written statement, Governor Peter Shumlin said he's very disappointed in today's ruling from the federal court.

"Entergy has not been a trustworthy partner with the state of Vermont," Shumlin said in the statement. "Vermont Yankee needed legislative approval 40 years ago. The plant received approval to operate until March, 2012. I continue to believe that it is in Vermont's best interest to retire the plant."

Shumlin says he will await the Attorney General's review of the decision to comment further on whether the state will appeal.

"The court today has made a decision that is, in my view, wrong on the merits and ripe for appeal," Senator Bernie Sanders said in his own statement. "I believe the law is very clear, and that states have the right to reject nuclear power for economic and other non-safety reasons." 

VPR's John Dillon spoke with Neal Charnoff during VPR's All Things Considered about the decision.

Click listen to hear the interview.
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