In brief: Lawmakers vote against reactor
Montpelier, Vt. – The Vermont Senate voted Wednesday to block the state’s only nuclear plant from operating after its license expires in 2012.
Vermont is the only state in the country with a law giving its legislature a say over a nuclear plant’s relicensing. The Senate’s 26-4 vote against a 20-year extension of Vermont Yankee’s license marks the first time lawmakers have formally weighed in on the question.
With the Vernon reactor leaking radioactive tritium into groundwater and its owners accused of misleading state regulators about underground piping at the plant, even senators who might have supported the license extension said they would have a difficult time doing so now.
Senate approves Patriot Act bill
Washington – The Senate voted Wednesday to extend for a year key provisions of the nation’s counterterrorism surveillance law that are scheduled to expire at the end of the month.
In agreeing to pass the bill, Senate Democrats retreated from adding new privacy protections to the USA Patriot Act.
The Senate approved the bill on a voice vote with no debate. It now goes to the House.
Three important sections of the Patriot Act are to expire at the end of this month.
One authorizes court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones. A second allows court-approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations. A third permits surveillance against a so-called lone wolf, a non-U.S. citizen suspected of engaging in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.