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June 2013: Vermont Supreme Court Victory for Entergy

June 2013

In January 2012, Quinn Emanuel persuaded a federal district court to invalidate as preempted Vermont statutes that required Entergy’s Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (“VY Station”) to shut down on March 21, 2012. With those statutes invalidated, Entergy still had to obtain a new state license for post-March 21, 2012 operation from the Vermont Public Service Board. Entergy had applied to the Board for that new license in 2008, but due to the now-preempted Vermont statutes, the Board had not taken action on the application. In such circumstances, a “timely-renewal” statute provides that, if an applicant for a new license has timely submitted its application, yet the agency has not ruled on it before the expiration date of the old license, the old license continues in effect until the agency rules on the application for the new license. The applicability of this statute seemed clear to everyone: The district court cited it, and the Vermont Attorney General represented to the district court that the statute applied.

The Board disagreed, however, ruling that the timely-renewal statute does not apply and that Entergy’s operation of the VY Station after March 21, 2012 would be in violation of state law. Although the Board stopped short of ordering the plant to shut down, an intervenor party, the New England Coalition, brought an original complaint before the Vermont Supreme Court seeking such a shutdown by invoking a seldom-used procedure that allows private parties to enforce Board orders.

Quinn Emanuel moved to dismiss the action and the Vermont Supreme Court granted the motion, issuing a published decision in our favor, dismissing New England Coalition’s complaint and thus ensuring that Entergy can continue for the time being to operate the plant. Quinn Emanuel continues to represent Entergy before the Board, the Second Circuit, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont.