Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Vermont Environmental and Land Use Law, May 29, 2013

Senate votes down GMO food labeling amendment,
The Senate today rejected by a vote of 71 to 27 an amendment by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) to let states require labels on food or beverages made with genetically modified ingredients.

“An overwhelming majority of Americans favor GMO labeling but virtually all of the major biotech and food corporations in the country oppose it,” Sanders said. “Today’s vote is a step forward on an important issue that we are going to continue to work on. The people of Vermont and the people of America have a right to know what's in the food that they eat,” he added.

The Vermont House on May 10 voted 99-42 for legislation calling for labeling food products that contain genetically modified organisms. Opponents raised concerns that the state could face lawsuits claiming that food labeling must be left to federal regulators. Sanders’ proposal was designed to make it clear that states have the authority to require the labeling of foods produced using genetically modified organisms.
States to Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Better nuclear waste rules needed, Burlington Free Press (pay site)
Attorneys general in Vermont, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut announced Thursday they are petitioning the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a more thorough environmental review of storage of highly radioactive nuclear waste at plant sites.

It was another effort by states to turn up the pressure on federal agencies to keep a promise Washington made 30 years ago but has yet to fulfill: that it would take possession of and find a permanent disposal site for what’s now more than 70,000 tons of waste piling up at the nation’s 104 commercial reactors.

“Federal law requires that the NRC analyze the environmental dangers of storing spent nuclear fuel at reactors that were not designed for long-term storage,” said Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell.

In a landmark ruling last year, a federal appeals court in Washington said the NRC needed to do a full environmental review of the risks of storing the waste — spent nuclear fuel — in storage pools and casks made of steel and concrete on the grounds of nuclear plants while the search continues for a disposal solution.
Hearing scheduled on Vermont Yankee challenge, WCAX
A federal court judge has scheduled a hearing on June 4 on a challenge by the owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Entergy Corp. sued the state last month, saying regulators have delayed approval of a backup emergency diesel generator. Yankee has been ordered by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to install a backup power source by September.

Vermont Public Radio reports Yankee says it needs to start construction by June 11 to get the equipment on line by September. The state Public Service Board hasn't granted a permit. In April, it said it is considering whether it can grant approval when Entergy "is not in compliance" with existing state orders covering Yankee's continued operation.
Vt. developer wins hydro power permits, WCAX
A developer has received state and federal permits to generate electricity at a 200-year-old dam site on Vermont's Walloomsac River.

Bill Scully and his company, Carbon Zero, bought the old Vermont Tissue Mill in North Bennington in 2008. Vermont Public Radio reports Scully started his quest to revive the dam that once powered the mill soon after that.

Scully hopes to produce electricity for about 220 homes and for his own businesses, which include a couple of restaurants and a store. He says his project will improve water quality by increasing the flow of water in a channel that's now dry for part of the year. He says it also will create new, year-round habitat for migrating fish and other aquatic life.
Owner of Vt. oil pipeline seeks ruling re-do, WCAX
The owner of a crude oil pipeline that runs between Maine and Montreal is asking Vermont environmental regulators to reconsider a ruling that would require a new review under the state's land use law if the company seeks to move Canadian tar sands oil in the pipeline.

Last month, Vermont's District 7 Environmental Commission determined the Portland-Montreal Pipeline Corp. would need a new Act 250 land-use permit if it proposes to move Canadian tar sands oil through an existing pipeline between Montreal and Portland.

The decision said changing the use of the pipeline would represent a significant change to the existing pipeline and so warrant a new review. In its request... the pipeline company says it has no plans to convert the pipeline to carry tar sands oil.
Appeals dropped against Vt. Wal-Mart expansion, WCAX
A developer has been cleared to start construction on a Wal-Mart expansion in Bennington, Vt., seven years after first proposing it.

The owners of the Mount Anthony Country Club have dropped the final two appeals that were pending in the project. The Bennington Banner reports  no reason was given; a lawyer representing the country club declined to comment Tuesday. Developer Jonathan Levy of BLS Bennington had secured permits from the town in 2006 to double the size of the Wal-Mart to about 112,000 square feet.

But the Vermont Natural Resources Council and a citizens' group, as well as the country club, had appealed local and state permits to expand the store. Those cases have since been resolved.
photo by  Alan Cleaver