The settlement agreement that was announced between Entergy and the state of Vermont may short-circuit the review of the Certificate of Public Good now before the Public Service Board Entergy needs to continue to operate even for one additional year. Regardless of what the PSB decides about this proposed settlement agreement, CRWC feels we have won in our decade-long fight to stop the Entergy discharge of thermal pollution of the Connecticut River.
We feel vindicated because during the Certificate of Public Good process our consultants’ poked holes in the ANR-issued NPDES permit. Our claim that the equation Entergy uses to predict effects and levels of the hot water discharge into the river is bogus and masks the real temperature increase when measured by simply sticking a thermometer in the river has been upheld by the ANR and DPS filings in this case. ANR has submitted briefs to the PSB that agree with the conclusions of our reports and recommend that the Entergy go to closed cycle cooling and that Entergy’s existing permit does not protect the river.
So where in the announced settlement is the requirement to go to closed cycle for the remainder of the time VY is operating? The settlement defers the issue of the thermal discharge to ANR and their NPDES permitting process. CRWC has been asking the administration to issue a new NPDES discharge permit requiring closed cycle cooling in the interests of the Connecticut River for 10 years. CRWC questions why this damaging thermal discharge will likely continue unabated when the Environmental Advisory Committee (a group of fisheries and water quality experts from NH, VT, and MA agencies constituted by ANR) has just issued a report that brings into question the science of the studies conducted so far by Entergy to justify the discharge of hot water? The report says the safest approach to protect the river is for closed cycle cooling even during 2014.
CRWC is not satisfied that the thermal pollution continues just because there is only one year left for the plant operation. Entergy has fought tooth and nail to hide behind their flawed science and cherry-picked modeling results in order not to have to stop discharging thermal pollution to the river.
Entergy is a big company and they can afford to do the right thing, but they will not because they are terrified of the precedent here. The precedent that would require a thermal discharge permit to reflect the reality of the river based on the biological needs of fish as they grow, breed, and migrate.
It seems the fact that Entergy is so big and they continue to threaten throwing more and more legal resources at defeating this precedent has influenced the state decisions in reaching this agreement. We think it is a shame the Shumlin Administration folded on this issue in the face of continued legal bluster by Entergy.
David L. Deen