NEW YORK — The question of whether Vermont’s only nuclear plant can continue operating without the approval of state regulators goes before a federal appeals court Monday in a dispute that has gained increasing attention nationally about the boundaries of federal authority over a controversial power source.
The New Orleans-based Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc. brought the issue to court. The utility won a decision last January in which a federal judge in Brattleboro ruled that safety issues are the sole responsibility of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
In 2011, that panel had extended the license for Entergy’s Vermont Yankee plant by 20 years. Without the judge’s ruling, the plant could have been forced to close on March 21, when state approval expires.
The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan took up the case on an expedited schedule, and a ruling from the three-judge panel that will hear arguments Monday could be expected within weeks rather than months.
At stake is a plant that opened in 1972 and supplies one-third of the electricity consumed by Vermont.