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Second Circuit strikes down Vermont nuclear power laws

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] on Thursday struck down [opinion, PDF] three Vermont statutes [text, PDF; text, PDF; text, PDF] regulating the safety of nuclear power plants. The court held that state regulations were preempted by the Federal Power Act and the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 [text, PDFs], both of which assign regulation and responsibility to the federal government, nullifying state regulations. Likewise, the court further applied the laws under the dormant commerce clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] because the Yankee Nuclear Power Plant [official website] in Vernon, Vermont, lies near the border of Massachusetts and provides interstate power as the result of previous joint interstate investments in Entergy [company website], a power company.

On Wednesday the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] found that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission [agency website] was in violation of federal law when it failed to act on a 2008 waste application [JURIST report] from the Department of Energy. In June New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that he intends to close several nuclear reactors within his jurisdiction. His state has already challenged the renewal of those operating licenses with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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