Nine states and the National Conference of State Legislatures support Vermont’s appeal in the Vermont Yankee case
Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that nine states and the National Conference of State Legislatures are supporting Vermont’s appeal in the Vermont Yankee case. Last week, Attorney General Sorrell filed Vermont’s brief urging the Court of Appeals to reverse the district court’s ruling and uphold Vermont’s laws requiring state legislative approval for continued operation of Vermont Yankee. Today a number of states and the National Conference of State Legislatures filed “friend of the court” briefs supporting Vermont’s position.
Attorney General Sorrell applauded this strong showing of support. “I am pleased that other states and the National Conference of State Legislatures all agree with our office that the district court’s analysis of this case was flawed,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “These voices, when added to those of the environmental groups that have supported our case from the outset, send a strong signal to the Court of Appeals that Vermont has acted within its rights in asserting legislative control over whether Vermont Yankee should be a part of our energy future,” Sorrell continued.
“If Judge Murtha’s decision is affirmed, it will have a profound negative impact on legislative decision making around the country,” said Vermont Speaker of the House Shapleigh Smith. “I am pleased that the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures recognized that fact and has joined the State of Vermont in seeking reversal of the Entergy decision.” The National Conference of State Legislatures serves the legislatures and staffs of all 50 states. Its brief argues that “the district court’s inappropriate use of partial legislative record materials to inquire into legislative motive both threatens the independence of legislative decision making and distorts the integrity of the legislative process” in a way that, unless overturned, “will inevitably chill state legislatures’ willingness to debate policy issues robustly and to solicit a variety of viewpoints about proposed legislation openly.”
New York’s filing — joined by Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Utah — highlights the longstanding role that States have played in the regulation of nuclear plants. Its brief emphasizes that “States are never required to authorize a given power plant” and that the Supreme Court has never found a state law preempted under the federal Atomic Energy Act. As New York explains, the district court’s analysis, if upheld, “would undermine the ‘dual regulation’ structure of state and federal authority under the Atomic Energy Act.”
A coalition of Vermont environmental advocacy groups, representing the Conservation Law Foundation, the Vermont Natural Resources Council, the New England Coalition, and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, is also expected to file a brief later today supporting Vermont’s position.
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.