State Asks Appeals Court To Overturn Vermont Yankee Ruling

02/20/12 6:06AM By Mitch Wertlieb

(Host) The state of Vermont has appealed the federal court ruling that rejected two state laws designed to force Vermont Yankee to close next month when its original operating license expires.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell announced the appeal over the weekend. He wants the appeals court to overrule the decision by Judge Garvin Murtha that allows Entergy to continue operating Vermont's only nuclear reactor for another 20 years.

Murtha's decision cited federal law that makes nuclear safety issues the sole jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The judge says remarks previously made by some Vermont legislators over safety at Yankee improperly motivated the state's attempt to shut the plant down.

Sorrell says the appeal will be based in part on how much deference Judge Murtha gave to those-quote-"relative handful of legislators" who made statements about safety.

(Sorrell) "If in the future in court cases in Vermont or elsewhere in the country, people are citing Judge Murtha's opinion are saying ‘yeah, it's fine to go in and pull a quote here and pull a quote there' and invalidate a whole statute by saying the whole Legislature was motivated by these concerns it could get into a situation where legislative leadership would be telling its members not to say much on the record,  and there could be some disincentive to have people speak their minds because it could ultimately lead to a statute being struck down."

(Host) Sorrell also says he took into consideration the price tag for an appeal.

(Sorrell) "Cost is certainly a factor, you don't want to waste taxpayers' money, but this is a hugely important issue in Vermont and for us to just sort of surrender before this large and very wealthy corporation and say ‘whoops, David vs. Goliath, we can't stay with you cost-wise so we're gonna surrender,' we're not gonna do it, we're going to fight some more."

(Host) The attorney general says the appeals process is likely to take months.

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