In the latest development in a legal fight over the fate of Vermont Yankee, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today he is blocking Senate confirmation of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission nominee. Sanders issued the following statement on why he placed a hold on the nomination of William Ostendorff:
"The Vermont state Senate decided last year in a bipartisan, 26-to-4 vote not to extend Vermont Yankee's license. I agree with that decision. Vermont has that authority based on federal law as well as a 2002 agreement with Entergy, the plant owner. If Vermont chooses an energy future that does not include a 40-year-old, problem-ridden nuclear power plant and that emphasizes energy efficiency and sustainable energy, that is certainly our right," Sanders said.
"Unfortunately, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted secretly two weeks ago by a 3-to-2 margin to recommend that the Department of Justice intervene on Entergy's behalf in a lawsuit between the state of Vermont and Entergy, a $14 billion energy giant. The NRC's legally-defined mission is to ensure the safety of our nation's 104 nuclear power plants, and the law is clear that states retain the authority to regulate based on economic and other considerations. What the NRC did demonstrates poor judgment and a recommendation to radically expand federal authority. I cannot support the nomination of any commissioner who may have voted to make this recommendation which is why I have placed a hold on the nomination of William Ostendorff.
"I am awaiting a decision on the part of the Justice Department as to whether it will accept this misguided and improper recommendation from the NRC, or whether it will do the right thing and allow the courts to decide this matter without federal interference."