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Vermont Files Brief In Appeal Of Vermont Yankee Decision

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

June 4, 2012

Attorney General William H. Sorrell has filed a brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit urging that court to uphold Vermont’s laws regulating the future operations of Vermont Yankee. “Vermont has every right to decide the future of a nuclear plant operating within its borders. Like many Vermonters, I respectfully but strongly disagree with the district court’s decision to invalidate our state laws,” Sorrell said.

Vermont’s brief, filed today, asks the Court of Appeals to reverse the district court and uphold Act 160, the statute that gives the Legislature a role in deciding whether Vermont Yankee may continue to operate. The brief argues that Act 160 and the related Act 74 are not preempted, and that the district court mistakenly based its legal analysis on fragments of legislative history that involved no more than a handful of legislators. “Vermonters are proud of our citizen legislature, a place where all Vermonters are welcome to express their concerns. Its open, informal process allows the airing of a wide range of views. The district court’s approach in this case sets a troubling precedent that could chill legislative participation and debate,” Sorrell explained.

The brief also asks the appellate court to undo a separate part of the district court’s ruling, an injunction that was designed to prevent the Public Service Board from mandating a “below-market” power-purchase agreement with Vermont utilities.

The district court issued its decision in the Vermont Yankee case, captioned as Entergy v. Shumlin, on January 19, 2012. The State’s appeal is pending in the federal Court of Appeals in New York City. “Friend of the court” briefs in support of Vermont will be filed next week, on June 11, and the Court of Appeals is expected to hear arguments in the case later this year.

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