Vermont Supreme Court denies New England Coalition’s petition to close Vermont Yankee

The Vermont Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the New England Coalition’s request to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

The anti-nuclear coalition took advantage of a rarely used statute in early December, in its petition asking the Supreme Court to enforce a Public Service Board (PSB) order against Vermont Yankee operator Entergy Corp.

The PSB order that prompted the coalition’s complaint was a denial of Entergy’s motion to amend its previous sale order, dry fuel storage order and certificate of public good.

The dry fuel storage order banned the plant from storing spent fuel on the site generated after March 21, 2012, when state permits for Vermont Yankee expired. The sale order prohibited the continued operation of the plant beyond that date without the board’s approval.

Since Entergy failed to follow these orders, and the board won’t amend them, the New England Coalition attempted to use Chapter 15 of Title 30, which allows a party to complain to the Vermont Supreme Court about noncompliance.

The coalition was a party in the board’s review of Entergy’s permit application in Public Service Board Docket 6545, which included the 2002 order to approve Entergy’s initial sale order and certificate of public good.

Since Entergy has appealed board orders to the Vermont Supreme Court and since Entergy is currently participating in the state’s application process for a new certificate of public good, the Supreme Court justices would not rule on the matter under the coalition’s complaint.

“NEC fails to demonstrate …that it exhausted its administrative remedies and that it has no adequate legal remedy,” they wrote in their decision.“NEC has not requested, nor has the Board issued, an order directing Entergy to cease operating Vermont Yankee on the grounds advanced by NEC here.”

The justices also noted that the board’s authority to enforce the sale order is not yet “established.” The state lost a federal court case in 2012, which found the state was federally preempted from shutting the plant down based on Vermont’s existing legislation. The state is currently appealing that decision.

Furthermore, the justices put off making a decision on the sale order because the court will consider the issue in an appeal that Entergy filed against the Public Service Board for moving forward with its permitting process under a new docket.

Entergy’s appeal to the Supreme Court came after the coalition filed its complaint.

Jared Margolis, the coalition’s lead attorney in the case, said that if Entergy had filed its appeal first, the coalition might have not taken the legal route it has. He said that while the court could have considered the order under the coalition’s docket, it chose not to for procedural reasons.

“The substantive issue that we brought before the Supreme Court has not been determined to be invalid,” he said. “The Supreme Court didn’t say, ‘Wwe don’t agree with the arguments of NEC.’ They said, ‘We’re going to take this up in Entergy’s appeal of docket 7440.’”

Andrew Stein

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  • Mike Kerin

    I had to get a CPG to put my solar array up 4.5 years ago. It is a safe, out of anyone’s sight, and nonpolluting array. All my neighbors had to approve of it. Why is it that Entergy can run their 41 year old plant without a GPG? Could there be some corruption going on? Is it possible that someone is getting paid off to allow this old plant to run without a current CPG?

    How about VTDIGGER doing some digging on this issue?

    • Mike,

      Entergy is operating under an amended version of its original CPG; it’s essentially an extension. Such an extension is statutorily put in place when an entity applies for a new CPG before its existing CPG runs out, and the Public Service Board is in the process of evaluating the permit. This process has been prolonged due to the federal litigation at hand.


      • Mike Kerin

        Thanks Andrew.


    The law of the wild says “Kill ONLY when you are hungry”. Apparently the justices are not hungry enough. Or else they are just waiting for the refuelling to be completed to have a greater impact.


    Here’s the picture

  • timothy price

    Vermont Yankee is trespassing in Vermont. Every Vermonter is threatened by the existence of this mass of rotting structure and tons of spent fuel waiting to be dispersed as in the reactors in Fukushima. Vermont’s need to call out their National Guard and escort Entergy out of the State.. for good.. taking their debris with them. They are trespassing, they are not wanted, they have been told repeatedly, they are breaking the law, they are seen as a threat… (see Fukushima)… it is time that Vermonter’s stood their ground and made them leave… sooner than later. Arrest the entire Energy Board of directors. They are criminals in Vermont. What the Federal government thinks is becoming ever less relevant in many ways.

  • Guy Page

    I understand Mike Kerin’s frustration – as a supporter of VY’s continued operation, I watched them try very hard to get a CPG decision, only to have the PSB’s ability to make that decision denied by the Senate. VY wanted it – supporters of stable, low-cost, low-carbon energy wanted it too – it was the “stop VY at any cost, financial or economic” folks who won the day, that day. IN a nutshell, that’s why there’s no VY CPG. Today Vermont talks a green game but uses far more carbon-heavy fossil fuel power (about 750,000 megawatt hours, or one-eighth of the total)before the VY contract expired.I continue to be amazed at the disparity between the expressed concern about climate change, and the actual response. Sometimes It’s the Most Important Problem in the World……but, if the topic is whether VY continues to operate, it’s not THAT important.

    • Mike Kerin

      Guy, my frustration is due to the stalling tactics of Entergy.
      I want the plant shuttered and the waste contained safely at the owners expense, NOT Vermonters expense.

  • Sally Shaw

    The PSB should be fining Entergy for every day they continue operating. Every day they are creating and storing more high level radioactive waste. Please write to PSB and urge them to assess fines for non-compliance with their Orders and ENVY’s MOU’s and agreements.

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