Response to Meredith Angwin’s comment on VSNAP

On her “Yes Vermont Yankee” blog (, Meredith Angwin writes:

The State of Vermont Considers Nuclear Safety

The Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel met on July 9 in Montpelier. They discussed nuclear safety. They quizzed Entergy  about whether they were making adequate changes to the plant post-Fukushima.

Listening, I felt I was in a time warp.  It’s almost as if the court case hadn’t happened.  It’s almost as if the judge hadn’t pointed out that Vermont has no jurisdiction about nuclear safety.  It’s almost as if  nobody knows that the NRC has sole jurisdiction on that subject.

It’s almost as if Vermont never learns. …”

Ms. Angwin’s premise is correct: the NRC does indeed have sole jurisdiction over nuclear safety.  However, the implied conclusion she draws — namely, that VSNAP has no business considering the issue, does not follow from her premise.  And flawed as his decision was, Judge Murtha did not find otherwise.

VSNAP is not a regulatory body, nor has it ever pretended to be one.  It was created specifically to do exactly what it appears to be doing in this case: namely, to ask the questions about the nuclear power plant operating in Vermont which will permit Vermont officials to make reasoned judgments concerning possible actions.

NRC does not regulate in a vacuum.  Its processes are open to intervention by citizens AND BY STATES and Vermont, like other states, has intervened in these regulatory processes many times.  Such interventions are invited by NRC and are not preempted in any way under the Atomic Energy Act.

Ms. Angwin confuses discussion  with regulation, and in so doing, conflates the Atomic Energy Act with an implied repeal of the first amendment right of free speech.

VSNAP’s questions are perfectly within the rights of citizens and state governments in a free society.  Notwithstanding Ms. Angwin’s implicit conclusion to the contrary, this is one “lesson” Vermont should NOT learn from the Murtha decision.





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