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Court Rules In Favor Of Vermont And Denies Entergy's Request For A Preliminary Injunction

CONTACT: William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, (802) 828-3173

July 18, 2011

The Federal District Court for the District of Vermont issued a decision today in favor of the State and denied Entergy’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented the State from enforcing its laws during the pendency of the litigation. Attorney General William Sorrell called the decision “a very good first step in an important case.”

On April 18, 2011, Entergy filed a complaint in federal district court against Governor Peter Shumlin, Attorney General William Sorrell, and members of the Vermont Public Service Board, seeking a ruling that federal law preempts Vermont laws and regulations regarding the operation of Vermont Yankee beyond March 21, 2012. Within days of suing the State, Entergy filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin Vermont from enforcing its laws during the pendency of the case. Both sides then filed extensive briefs, available here, and a hearing on the motion was held on June 23-24, 2011 in federal district court in Brattleboro.

In its preliminary injunction decision, the Court agreed with the State and rejected Entergy’s argument that it would suffer irreparable harm during the pendency of the litigation. As the Court wrote, “where the preliminary injunctive relief—which would be of very limited duration in this case—does not operate to enjoin any acts before trial, and cannot redress or ameliorate any harm, it serves only as a preview of the Court’s views of the merits and is unwarranted.”

Governor Peter Shumlin voiced his agreement with the Court’s decision: “In my judgment, Vermont has acted and will continue to act responsibly regarding our energy future, and we will continue to work hard to ensure that our laws are enforced and respected. Entergy’s lawsuit is an attack on state authority, attempting to deny us a voice regarding whether Vermont Yankee will run past March 2012—even though Entergy has known since 2002 that it could not operate the plant past that date without state approval. I believe strongly in the state’s authority, and I believe that Entergy has not been an honest, fair and responsible player for Vermont.”

Attorney General William Sorrell noted that he looks forward to the upcoming trial on the merits: “We will continue to defend the constitutionality of Vermont’s laws regulating Vermont Yankee and will be working hard to prepare for the critical merits stage of this litigation.” The case is currently scheduled for a trial on the merits beginning on September 12, 2011.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.