Criminalizing Vermont Yankee

by Rob Roper

Rep. Dick Marek (D-Newfane)

Rep. Dick Marek (D-Newfane) is introducing legislation that would turn Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant into a criminal enterprise.

At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Marek explained, “The provisions provide that if one operates a nuclear plant in the state of Vermont without the required permission of both the legislature and the public service board, that that is an illegal enterprise and subject to potential forfeiture of all proceeds for doing so plus a fine of up to $100,000 per day.”

Marek is not just going after the power plant, but also vendors who service the plant. “It also has a provision that would be included that would provide if one facilitates violation of Vermont law with the knowledge that the plant is not appropriately permitted by the state of Vermont would, if they provide services in the amount of over $10,000 a year and if they are not someone who stands in the normal employee status… they would be subject to a fine. That fine would be $2000 per occurrence.”

Rep. Mike Hebert (R-Vernon), who represents the town where Yankee is located, responded after Marek’s press conference. “I think it’s a frivolous endeavor. I don’t understand how you would enforce such a rule. What he’s looking for is to fine Vermont Yankee for operating their plant to the tune of $100,000 per day, but what concerns me even more is the folks that do business with Vermont Yankee. He’s looking to penalize them. So, the oil delivery man who brings in fuel for the backup generator or brings heating fuel to the general office, is he committing a crime?”

Marek acknowledged that given the late date in the legislative session his bill would be introduced means that it won’t likely be taken up until 2012. But, asked if he thought the bill had any chance of passing, Rep. Hebert replied, “Well, I’m a freshman legislator up here and I have been surprised at things that I would think have no opportunity to pass that pass, so I’m making no call on that. You never know.”


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