The state, not Vermont Yankee, violating the law

On April 20, John McClaughry of the Ethan Allen Institute sent the following letter to Speaker of the House, Shap Smith, and Senate President John Campbell.

Dear Shap and John:

Gov. Shumlin has made much of Entergy’s alleged failure to keep its word regarding the 2002 MOU, in which it agreed to seek a Certificate of Public Good from the PSB to continue its operations beyond March 2012.

Without arguing ENVY’s case – which rests on the abrogation of the MOU by a unilateral act of the general assembly and governor of 2006 denying ENVY’s opportunity to seek a CPG by requiring a political approval not contemplated or discussed in 2002 – I would like to point out that the general assembly has to date failed to obey its own lawful duty under Act 160 of 2006.

Sec. 1 of Act 160, addressing both spent fuel storage and continued operation of the plant after March 21, 2012, says “the general assembly shall consider concurrently the issue of storage of spent nuclear fuel… and the operation of Vermont Yankee nuclear power station after March 21, 2012 ,… and shall grant the approval or deny approval of such activities concurrently”.

A plain reading of this statute requires that the general assembly – House and Senate, in the same biennial session – must either grant or deny approval for spent fuel storage and continued operation of VYNPS.

Has the House acted either to grant or deny approval? No. Has the Senate – not last year’s different Senate – acted to either grant or deny approval? No. Are there any plans by the leadership of either of those bodies to act on granting or denying approval? No.

So who is breaking its word here? Moreover, who is violating the law of this state?

There are it seems to me two honorable paths of action for the general assembly.

One would be to pass a bill repealing the requirement in Sec. 1 of Act 160 that the current leadership of the House and Senate has evinced no interest in obeying.

The other would be to put before the House and Senate a straightforward joint resolution either approving or denying PSB’s authority to issue a CPG for spent fuel storage and continued operation of VYNPS. That bill would be similar to S.289, rejected by the previous Senate on February 24, 2010.

The Governor was quick to accuse Entergy of breaking its word. It seems to me that whatever Entergy’s culpability may be, the general assembly is guilty of willfully continuing to ignore its own legal obligation, under its own law of five years ago. As a citizen and former member of both House and Senate, this distresses me. It is easily within your power to correct this nonfeasance, and I urge you to do so promptly.

As of this writing (nearly two weeks later), McClaughry has not received a response from either leader.