Thursday, September 20, 2012

Vermont Environmental and Land Use Law, September 20, 2012

Vermont Yankee nuke plant sues over new state tax, WCAX
The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has filed a lawsuit against the state over taxes on the plant the Legislature passed this year.

Vermont Yankee already won a round in federal court over the state's efforts to close it. That case is on appeal.

Now New Orleans-based plant owner Entergy Corp. is suing over a law increasing the plant's annual tax bill from about $5 million to about $12.8 million. Backers of the increase say it was designed to make up for revenues lost to the state under agreements that ended on the plant's originally scheduled shutdown date in March.

Gov. Peter Shumlin calls Entergy's decision to challenge the tax "disappointing." Entergy says the tax is unconstitutional.

The plant is in Vernon, in the southeast corner of the state. It's near Massachusetts and New Hampshire, which receive power from it.
Future Of Farm Bill Uncertain, VPR
After the U.S. House adjourns this weekend, it's very unlikely that they will be back in Washington until after the November election.

The timetable is creating a major problem for members of Congress who want to pass a new 5-year Farm Bill before the current law expires in two weeks.

Congressman Peter Welch is a member of the House Agriculture committee. He points out that several months ago this panel gave its approval to a proposed Farm Bill. The legislation contains a new dairy program that's designed to stabilize milk prices and discourage the over production of milk.

But House leaders are concerned that the legislation doesn't make big enough cuts in crop subsidy and nutrition programs and Welch says the bill is now in legislative limbo.
Residents concerned about Vt. biomass project, WCAX
The public has until Sept. 10 to comment on an air quality permit for a proposed biomass project in Vermont.

More than a dozen opponents of the North Springfield project expressed concerns at a recent public forum it would emit harmful pollutants that could lead to respiratory illnesses for residents.

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources' air pollution control division granted a draft permit last month. It said developers will use the best available control technology to control pollutants. It determined emissions comply with applicable standards.

The Eagle-Times reports... the only person who spoke favorably about the project was Bob Flint, executive director of the Springfield Regional Developmental Corporation. He said there would be a geothermal benefit, to capture excess heat byproduct and use it for businesses and households.
Landowners critique proposed rural zoning in Hinesburg, Burlington Free Press (pay site)
Seventy-five Hinesburg residents and landowners gathered at a public hearing this week discuss a three-pronged proposal for changes to the town plan and rural zoning.

The planning commission’s proposed amendments would revise portions of the town plan, the zoning regulations and the subdivision regulations, with goals of giving rural landowners more options for use of their land; making sure important natural resources are defined; and providing a formula for the number of residential units to be allowed in two rural districts.

Farmers and landowners attending the hearing appeared to have divided opinions about the changes, stating approval of some and criticism of other aspects. Many expressed concern about the proposed land that would be excluded when calculating the number of lots that could be subdivided within a property.
Vermont communities to get $300,000 from Feds for post-Irene support,
More support to Vermont communities for long-term revitalization is on the way, according to Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch.  They announced Wednesday that the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development has been given a $300,000 investment award by the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).

The award, which is funded through the Fiscal Year 2012 Disaster Relief Opportunity administered by the EDA, will support long-term recovery, spur job creation, leverage private investments and promote disaster resilience in Vermont communities. Leahy, Sanders, and Welch all pushed last year for this critical funding at EDA to support the state’s business community in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.

The EDA investment funds the development of a state-wide long-term economic recovery strategy for Vermont. The strategy will help state agencies and departments to develop and implement policies that will support regional growth, create a more resilient economy in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, and mitigate the impact of future disasters.
 photo by lori05871