Burlington, Vermont - January 19, 2012
Thursday a federal judge ruled against Vermont's efforts to shut down Vermont Yankee.
"I'm ecstatic…Gut reaction is I am very pleased with this ruling, it is what I expected to happen, it is what the town of Vernon hoped would happen," says State Representative Mike Herbert. Herbert represents Vernon, home to the state's only nuclear power plant.
The 100-plus page ruling argues the state is pre-empted by federal law from taking any action to close Yankee when its original license expires in March. It was far from good news for many who work in and around the state house.
"This is dinosaur of a plant being run by Keystone Cops, and I don't think the people of a Vermont are going to take kindly to the judge's decision in this case that says we have to continue to host this relic," says Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.
Governor Shumlin released a statement Thursday that said in part, "I am very disappointed in today's ruling from the federal court. Entergy has not been a trustworthy partner with the state of Vermont.... I will await the Attorney General's review of the decision to comment further on whether the state will appeal."
Representative Hebert argues keeping the plant open means keeping 12-hundred combined jobs at the site and in the community. "It's solid good paying jobs, that pump about 100-million dollars a year into our economy in Windham County, and without Vermont Yankee being there it is a problematic thing, and also Vermont Yankee is an exceptionally good corporate neighbor," says Hebert.
They're not neighbors Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell wants sticking around, "The rep from Vernon says they're a good corporate neighbor and this is great news for jobs "I am not sure the rep from vernon was there when the misrepresentations were made to us from the corporate leaders of Entergy Louisiana," says Campbell.
Vermont Yankee's parent company, Entergy Louisiana, is celebrating the judge's decision saying in a written statement "The ruling is good news for our 600 employees, the environment and New England residents and industries that depend on clean, affordable, reliable power provided by Vermont Yankee."
Just as divisive as the decision is what folks think should happen next and whether the state of Vermont can continue to fund an ongoing legal battle.
"We can't afford to spend more money, more Vermont money, on another lawsuit that is going to cost millions more dollars," says Hebert.
"It is a disappointment for sure, but it is not game over," adds Burns.
Attorney General Bill Sorrell and his staff are review the ruling. They have 30 days to file an appeal in federal court.