Monday, June 18, 2012

Vermont Environmental and Land Use Law, June 18, 2012

Federal ruling could give state officials basis for denying Entergy license to operate Vermont Yankee,
A decision issued Friday by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals could change the game for nuclear power plants for spent nuclear fuel.

What the ruling means for the Vermont Yankee facility and ongoing efforts to shutter the plant is up in the air, but some legal experts say the decision could give the state a more solid basis on which to deny an operating license.

In its decision, the court found that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency in charge of regulating nuclear safety, did not adequately analyze environmental effects when it determined in a ruling that spent nuclear fuel can be stored on site for 60 years after a plant’s licence expires. The court also found the agency failed to address the future effect of not establishing a spent nuclear fuel repository when it said a geologic repository for that radioactive waste would be available “when necessary.”

Vermont was a party in the lawsuit over the so-called Waste Confidence Decision along with the New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.
Vt. wants former factory site on Superfund list, WCAX
State and federal environmental officials want the site of a former factory in Bennington, Vt., to be listed as a Superfund site to allow for more testing and cleanup efforts.

The removal of contaminated soil, wells, storage tanks and transformers at the 36-acre area known as the Jard site was finished in 2007.

The Bennington Banner reports ( officials say since then, tests have shown the spread of polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCBs, in groundwater.

Residents were told Friday that the Environmental Protection Agency will install more monitoring wells to determine the extent of contamination. Testing of 2 homes has showed some contamination. Those homes are being cleaned.Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell said the decision underscores the federal government’s lack of planning for a comprehensive solution to the waste created by nuclear power plants.
Vt. Irene recovery bill at $733M, more work to do, WCAX
Vermont officials say the total cost of recovering from Tropical Storm Irene is estimated at $733 million and the federal government is expected to pay about three quarters of that amount.

Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding says the state expects it will have to pay about $110 million for its share of the repair costs.

Spaulding and other top state officials gave a briefing Thursday on the efforts to recover from the biggest natural disaster in almost a century.

In the immediate aftermath of the Aug. 28 storm, more than 500 miles of roadways and dozens of bridges were damaged or destroyed and thousands of people were forced from their homes.

Now, the roads and bridges are open again, but about 800 are still without permanent, long-term living arrangements.
Vt. gives tax relief to flooded mobile homes, WCAX
The state of Vermont is providing additional tax relief to people whose mobile homes were damaged or destroyed during last year's spring flooding or from Tropical Storm Irene.

To qualify, mobile home owners must meet three criteria:

The owners must be residents of Vermont, the owner's mobile home must have been damaged or destroyed as a result of a 2011 federally declared disaster and the owners must have bought a replacement mobile home between April 2 of last year and June 30 of this year.

For people who meet the criteria, the state will refund any sales and use taxes or property transfer taxes that were paid. Gov. Peter Shumlin says the tax relief is another way to help Vermonters recover from last year's natural disasters.
Commerce Agency Seeks Public Input For Flood Recovery Plan, VPR
Last year, extraordinary floodwaters inundated the homes of some 15,000 Vermonters. But as of the end of last month, only 5,100 had received any housing recovery assistance.

Those are just some of the findings of a disaster recovery action plan being developed by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development that could bring Vermont more than $21.6 million to help individuals and businesses recover. 

That much-needed funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would help individuals and businesses still reeling from Tropical Storm Irene and last spring's floods.

"We've assessed to the best of our ability what's out there and tried to assign this money to address some of those critical needs that we know of already," says Josh Hanford, director of the Vermont Community Development program which is still trying to identify the worst hit areas.

Hanford says hearing from the public this month will help his agency tweak how it assigns potential incoming dollars to meet the state's local recovery needs. So far, the agency estimates, there's still $22 million needed to assist businesses; $5.4 million for farms. FEMA estimates there are still more than 1,500 homes that need support estimated to cost nearly $25 million. Some of that need might be covered by other agencies and programs.
Vt. governor signs 'universal recycling' bill, WCAX
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has signed a new law calling for statewide mandatory recycling to be phased in in Vermont by 2020.

The first mandate would apply to large-volume generators of food waste, who would be required to recycle by 2014. Households would be required to recycle products like paper and plastic by 2015 and yard waste by 2016. All organic matter would be recycled by 2020.

Shumlin and lawmakers say it's the first major change in the state's solid waste law in 25 years, and is designed to address the fact that Vermont currently recycles only a bit more than a third of its waste. Backers of the legislation say that could be increased to two-thirds. Meanwhile, the last two operating landfills in the state are filling up.