Katz: The worm turns

Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Deb Katz, executive director of Citizens Awareness Network.

Hidden in Judge Murtha’s decision was a trojan horse that has made Entergy’s quest for continued operation much harder. With all the focus on pre-emption and the judge seeming to grant Entergy all that it wanted, it sure looked like smooth sailing for this rogue corporation. But not so fast …

Judge Murtha during the trial asked Entergy what it wanted; Entergy stated on the record that it wanted to go back to the Public Service Board for a decision. The judge sent the decision on continued operation back to the PSB. He did keep in tact the power of the PSB to decide whether Entergy can continue to operate in Vermont past March 21, 2012.

After Murtha’s ruling and assuming an easy approval process, Entergy asked the PSB for an immediate decision on the old record that before Judge Murtha it claimed was too “tainted” to go forward. Of course it was tainted by Entergy’s repeated leaks, lies and schemes to create a new more risky LLC called first SPINCO and then Enexus. The PSB set a date for a status conference. Now it gets complicated for Entergy. The state appealed Murtha’s decision in terms of pre-emption and abridgement of state’s rights. Entergy stated it would not appeal. Then the PSB sent out a series of queries to Entergy and the intervenors about the process of going forward.

The PSB began with the statement that the injunction granted by Judge Murtha only covered the pre-emption issues ruled on. There was no injunction in terms of the certificate of public good. Entergy would by March 22 be in violation of state regulations requiring a certificate of public good to continue to operate and what did Entergy intend to do about it. In addition it did not grant an injunction for dry cask storage of high level waste on site produced after March 21. Entergy would require PSB approval to store any more waste. There were also questions raised about the tainted hearing process and whether a new hearing would be needed.

What was Entergy’s response? It went back to court. First to the second circuit court of appeals to cross appeal the state of Vermont asking for an injunction against the PSB. Then it went back to Murtha’s court invoking a trial rule requesting that the judge “fix” inadvertent errors and mistakes that Entergy alleges that Murtha made in his decision saying that Murtha got it wrong after all — the PSB should basically have no power over Entergy. Entergy also stated it would drop the second circuit appeal if Judge Murtha adjusted his decision to meet Entergy’s needs.

And then it went back to the PSB to delay the hearing that it asked for. It also asked if the hearing could not be delayed, that it have extra time to file a response to the questions that the PSB posed — more time than the intervenors. It needed this time so it had a head start on responding to intervenors concerns while intervenors would have to wait till after the conference to raise objections to Entergy’s filing. The board rejected Entergy’s stalling tactics. The hearing will be held on March 9. It did grant petitioner (Entergy) and intervenors more time to respond, but Entergy does not get any more time than anyone else.

So start the clock.

If you are able, consider attending the Public Service Board Status Conference on Vermont Yankee’s Certificate of Public Good which is due to expire, March 21, 2012. . It is important for the public to be present with Entergy, legislators, other intervening parties and officials.

Public Service Board
Docket #7440 Status Conference
March 9
9:30 a.m.
Vermont State House, Room 11
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont

In Re: Petition of Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee, LLC, and Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., for amendment of their Certificates of Public Good and other approvals required under 10 V.S.A. §§ 6501-6504 and 30 V.S.A. §§ 231(a), 248 & 254, for authority to continue after March 21, 2012, operation of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, including the storage of spent-nuclear fuel.

Correction: The attribution for this column was originally given to Bob Stannard, the lobbyist for CAN. The piece is by Deb Katz, the executive director of the group.

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