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68 posts categorized "Vermont Yankee"

June 19, 2012

Burlington City Council Neither Supports Nor Opposes Bed-down of F-35


Clark1610Three Vermont Air National Guard officers (including Col. Joel Clark, right) sat silently at a Burlington City Council public hearing last night as speaker after speaker after speaker denounced the proposed basing here of the F-35 supersonic fighter jet.

Afterward, however, the local military brass expressed satisfaction with the council's decision to neither support nor oppose the bed-down at Burlington International Airport. Councilors instead voted unanimously, after a 90-minute debate and 90 minutes of public comments, to put questions to the U.S. Air Force regarding the F-35's potential impact on public health, real-estate values and the regional economy.

Mayor Miro Weinberger backed the successful resolution, which also calls for an F-35 to be brought to Burlington to demonstrate the degree of noise the plane produces.

Continue reading "Burlington City Council Neither Supports Nor Opposes Bed-down of F-35" »

April 18, 2012

At Press Conference, Shumlin Clarifies Position on Utility Merger — Kind Of

One of the key questions in the debate over Gaz Metro’s proposed acquisition of Central Vermont Public Service is this: Is it ever okay for the legislature to stick its nose into a regulatory process governed by the independent Public Service Board?

As we reported in this week’s Seven Days, Gov. Peter Shumlin’s answer last week appeared to be no, not ever. Outside an energy conference in Burlington last Monday, he said, “It’s absolutely inappropriate for the legislature or the governor to weigh in through law on a pending [Public Service Board] case.”

But later that week, Shumlin was asked at a press conference whether he did just that when, as Senate President Pro Tem, he orchestrated a 2010 vote denying Vermont Yankee a new operating license.

The gov’s answer?

No, he said. He was just following Act 160 — a law passed during his four-year hiatus from the Senate — which gave the legislature an up-or-down vote on Yankee’s relicensing. He further added that Act 160 — a law he utilized when trying to shut down Vermont Yankee — wasn’t such a hot idea in the first place.

At a press conference today, however, Shumlin shifted — ahem, elaborated on — his stance.

Asked about his effort last spring to charge Entergy, which owns Vermont Yankee, for any legal expenses the state incurred defending a lawsuit brought by the company, Shumlin today established a new standard of interference: If it has to do with Vermont Yankee, the legislature can do whatever the hell it pleases. If it has to do with utility acquisitions, leave well enough alone.

“The role of the legislature is different in Entergy than it has been in other regulated cases,” Shumlin said, because the legislature authorized the plant’s construction in the first place and then gave itself a role in the relicensing process.

Wait, what? Don’t worry, he explained:

Continue reading "At Press Conference, Shumlin Clarifies Position on Utility Merger — Kind Of" »

March 23, 2012

Burlington State Senator Among 130 Arrested at Vermont Yankee Protest

Thursday was a big day for Burlington’s own Sen. Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden). He played hookie from the legislature, got himself arrested at a protest, spent a few hours in the Brattleboro clinker, and made it back to South Burlington for the premiere of The Hunger Games at the Palace 9.

All in a day’s work, I guess.

Marking the first day of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant’s operation after its 40-year federal license was set to expire, more than 1000 opponents of the Vernon plant marched Thursday afternoon from a Brattleboro park to the local headquarters of VY owner Entergy Corp. (Some estimates pegged the number of protestors closer to 1500.)

Baruth bookingAccording to Brattleboro Police Chief Gene Wrinn, more than 130 of them were arrested for unlawful trespass as they sought to approach Entergy’s corporate office building.

Among them: Sen. Baruth, who has advocated for years against the plant’s continued operation — first as an activist and blogger and now as a member of Chittenden County’s six-member senate delegation. (Pictured is the BPD's makeshift booking station, as captured by Baruth.)

Baruth says he first considered engaging in civil disobedience in January during a weekly appearance on WKVT’s “Live and Local” radio show with Steve West. The two — and Newfane activist Dan Dewalt — were discussing Federal District Court Judge Garvan Murtha’s decision to allow VY to continue operating despite Vermont lawmakers’ efforts to close down the plant.

“The more I thought about this particular moment with the 40-year anniversary and the closing date, I thought it was the thing to do,” Baruth says.



Continue reading "Burlington State Senator Among 130 Arrested at Vermont Yankee Protest" »

March 02, 2012

Doyle Town Meeting Survey Polls on Vermont Yankee, Wind Power and Legalizing Pot

Bill DoyleShould Vermont continue its efforts to close Vermont Yankee?

Do you think that Gov. Peter Shumlin is doing a good job?

Should the high school drop-out rate age be changed from 16 to 18?

Stop talking to your computer screen! I'm not asking you those questions. State Sen. Bill Doyle (R-Washington) is, as part of his annual Town Meeting Day Survey.

Doyle (pictured), who teaches political science at Johnson State College, has 14 questions on this year's survey. Download it here.

Among other things, Doyle wants to know whether you think the Vermont Legislature is doing a good job (couldn't be any worse than Congress, right?), if Vermont should have a four-year term for governor, and if drivers should be prohibited from using cellphones while driving.

Doyle also wants to know if you support the individual mandate in the federal Affordable Care Act, whether Vermont should legalize (not just decriminalize) the possession of small amounts of marijuana, whether wind turbines should be built on ridge lines, and whether the bottle bill should be expanded to cover all bottled beverages.

Doyle's survey isn't scientific, but for years it has offered a rough pulse on Vermonters' opinions. Now he's got some serious competition in the form of the new polling institute at Castleston State College, a  statistically valid poll that released its first poll last week and intends to survey Vermonters on any number of hot-button issues.

February 15, 2012

Q&A With Sen. Bernie Sanders

Bernie InterviewU.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was in town Monday morning to face business leaders at a Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce breakfast.  Then he high-tailed it over to his Burlington office for a press conference on transportation funding and his campaign to overturn Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruling that ushered in the spending orgy consuming the GOP presidential race.

After that — and before hopping a noon plane back to Washington, D.C. — he carved out 20 minutes to sit down with Seven Days for a wide-ranging interview that touched on Vermont Yankee, Burlington's mayoral politics and whether Vermont needs a state-level "Buffett Rule."

Sanders also talked about super PACs — President Obama's decision to embrace them and the circumstances under which he might do the same — which was the subject of this week's Fair Game column, "A Bernie Sanders Super PAC?"

The following are edited excerpts from the conversation.

SEVEN DAYS: You've proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. What is the actual pasth to passage for that proposal? How certain or uncertain is it?

Continue reading "Q&A With Sen. Bernie Sanders" »

January 19, 2012

Statehouse Reacts to Vermont Yankee Ruling

DSC01647Bob Stannard was standing in the Statehouse cafeteria Thursday when his phone rang. It was Gov. Peter Shumlin, calling to tell him that a federal judge had finally ruled on Vermont Yankee's lawsuit against the state. Entergy, owner of the nuclear power plant Stannard had lobbied to shut down for five years, had won. The state had lost.

"I haven't had a chance to read this tome," said Stannard (pictured), glancing over the 102-page decision on his iPhone. "It appears we'll get nothing from Entergy except radiation and spent fuel. We get stuck with their waste."

News spread quicky through the capitol Thursday afternoon after federal Judge J. Garvan Murtha ruled that the 40-year-old nuclear reactor can remain open past 2012, and that the Vermont Legislature pre-empted federal authority when it voted to shut the plant down two years ago. Stannard fought to close the plant for five years as the lobbyist for the Vermont Citizens Action Network. He witnessed a major milestone in 2010 when the Vermont Senate, led by then-Senate President Peter Shumlin, voted 26 to 4 against letting state regulators hear the plant's petition for a 20-year license extension.

At the time, a series of radioactive leaks and false statements by company officials had Entergy on the run. But Entergy sued the state, contending that federal agencies, not states, had sole authority to regulate nuclear power. When Thursday's ruling arrived in favor of Vermont Yankee, Stannard and other Statehouse denizens seemed disappointed, but hardly surprised.

Continue reading "Statehouse Reacts to Vermont Yankee Ruling" »

Judge Rules in Favor of Entergy in Vermont Yankee Case; Plant May Operate Beyond 2012

Vy-picEntergy has won a preliminary injunction against the state of Vermont to keep the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant open beyond March of this year. U.S. District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha handed down the decision this afternoon, ruling that the federal Atomic Energy Act preempts state law.

Staff writer Andy Bromage will have more on this story later this evening.

Click here to view the full 102-page ruling.

Here's Gov. Peter Shumlin's statement on the decision:

"I am very disappointed in today’s ruling from the federal court. Entergy has not been a trustworthy partner with the state of Vermont. Vermont Yankee needed legislative approval 40 years ago. The plant received approval to operate until March, 2012. I continue to believe that it is in Vermont's best interest to retire the plant. I will await the Attorney General’s review of the decision to comment further on whether the state will appeal."

October 24, 2011

"Occupy Burlington" Plans to Truly Occupy Burlington

IMG_3040 Now in its fifth week, the Occupy Wall Street solidarity protesters in Burlington are beginning to channel their energy into more direct action.

Demonstrators plan to stage an actual occupation — of City Hall Park — starting this Friday.

On Sunday, about 150 people gathered in City Hall Park and marched up and down Church Street. Back at the park, the crowd held a "speak out" and "general assembly." The latter resembles a large town meeting, where facilitators help people make proposals to the group — either to form subgroups or take collective action — and bring specific proposals on which the assembly can vote.

The biggest "Occupy Vermont" rally to date was last Saturday, when as many as 500 people gathered in City Hall Park and marched through downtown Burlington. At last Sunday's weekly rally, about 250 people came together and held Burlington's first general assembly. From that meeting, several subgroups were formed — including ones focused on direct action, anti-misogyny, the economy, and media.

After a brief report from the spokesman for the "strategy working group," a demonstrator who identified himself only as Will, the rally-goers agreed to occupy City Hall Park starting at 3 p.m. this coming Friday. The occupation will last through the weekend.

When asked what the purpose of the occupation will be, Will replied, "That's a good question. We're open to suggestions."

Continue reading ""Occupy Burlington" Plans to Truly Occupy Burlington" »

September 30, 2011

Gov. Peter Shumlin Snubs Entergy's Post-Irene Donations

Donation_jar Gov. Peter Shumlin recently thanked a host of private companies for their generous cash donations to state and local flood relief efforts, but there was one major omission: Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee.

The owner of the state's lone nuclear power plant has donated more than $130,000 to Windham County and Brattleboro relief efforts in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.

Pro-VY blogger Meredith Angwin first noted the oversight on her blog Yes Vermont Yankee.

Shumlin praised numerous "corporate angels" (see list below) during a glad-handing event at National Life in Montpelier last week — including several that donated far less than Entergy. The media, naturally, were invited, but not the gov's nuclear nemesis. We're assuming that ENVY stills resides on Shumlin's "corporate demons" list.

The $130,000 in donations makes Entergy one of the more generous corporate donors to private and public relief efforts, along with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (which donated $250,000) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont ($150,000). At the top of the list is Vermont Public Radio, which raised more than $625,000 in a single-day fund-raising drive.

Continue reading "Gov. Peter Shumlin Snubs Entergy's Post-Irene Donations" »

September 23, 2011

VPIRG Backs Off Criticism of Gov. Shumlin's Energy Plan

Fairgame The Vermont Public Interest Research Group today had some harsh words for Gov. Peter Shumlin's new comprehensive energy plan, but then quickly took them back.

Earlier today, VPIRG clean energy advocate Ben Walsh fired off an email titled "Really? This is what we waited for?" The email criticized Shumlin's plan for being less aggressive in the development of renewable energy than his predecessor — Republican Gov. Jim Douglas.

Gasp!

"After more than six months of anticipation and hard work put forth by Vermonters all across the state, the Shumlin administration’s comprehensive energy plan was released last week. Parts of the plan are visionary but we need action, not just vision. Shockingly, the plan promotes slower clean energy adoption than we saw happen under the Douglas administration*," noted Walsh.

At the bottom of the email, Walsh adds this explanation after the asterisk:

"*Really. Since 2005, Vermont utilities have signed up for 13 percent of their electricity to come from new renewable projects by 2013. That is 1.6 percent new per year. The Shumlin plan is only calling for 1.1 percent new renewable electricity per year. :-("

I bet it was the emoticon that really peeved Team Shumlin. Whatever happened, less than four hours later Walsh's boss — James Moore — issued an apology under the email subject line, "Correction: too harsh, good plan."

Continue reading "VPIRG Backs Off Criticism of Gov. Shumlin's Energy Plan" »

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