Sorrell Announces State Appeal Of Vermont Yankee Ruling

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Attorney General Bill Sorrell announced Saturday that the state had filed an appeal of the federal court ruling that invalidated two state statutes governing continued operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Sorrell says the state appealed "all aspects" of the  ruling on Jan. 19 by U.S. District Court Judge Garvan Murtha.

"We have strong arguments to make on appeal,” Sorrell said. The District Court’s decision improperly limits the state’s legitimate role in deciding whether Vermont Yankee should operate in Vermont beyond March 21, 2012."

Sorrell argues that Murtha relied too heavily on discussions among legislators, expert witnesses and advocates about the safety of the nuclear plant.

Federal law pre-empts states’ ability to regulate the health and safety of a nuclear power plant. That’s left to the authority of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

But Murtha ruled that the state was trying to insert itself into that federal responsibility when the Legislature gave itself veto power over whether Yankee could operate after March 21, when its original 40-year operating license was due to expire.

The plant is still operating. It’s won NRC approval to run for another 20 years. It will be able to continue operating under that license unless a court rules otherwise.

Sorrell’s appeal was filed with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

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