Vermont AG Won't Press Charges Against Nuclear Plant Officials

NO CHARGES: After an 18-month investigation, Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell announced last week that he won't be charging executives from the state's only nuclear power plant with perjury, the Burlington Free Press reports . In 2009, officials from the Vermont Yankee Nuclear power plant told the state's Public Service Board that the plant didn't have underground pipes that carry radioactive material. The next year, pipes under the plant began to leak radioactive tritium. "We found more incompetence than malevolence," Sorrell said while announcing the decision, though he also described plant officials' conduct as "untrustworthy." The conclusion of the investigation comes as the state is battling Vermont Yankee in court over whether the plant will have to shut down next year or whether it will be able to continue operations until 2032.

DRILLING FOR REVENUE:   In a move that will rekindle the debate over how much revenue states should get from drilling off their coasts,  Virginia 's U.S. senators have introduced legislation to speed up the start of oil and gas drilling off the coast of their state, the Virginian-Pilot reports . The bill from Democrats Jim Webb and Mark Warner would split revenue from the drilling evenly between the federal government and the state. Generally, the federal government has kept revenue from offshore drilling, but 2006 federal legislation gave Mississippi , Louisiana , Alabama and Texas 37.5 percent. Webb and Warner introduced the legislation with the support of Republican Governor Bob McDonnell and despite the opposition of environmental groups. The sale of oil and gas leases off the Virginia coast would have begun this year, but were delayed by the Gulf oil spill.

CORPS COMPETENCY DOUBTED: Upset at the Army Corps of Engineers management of water levels on the Missouri River, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is hoping to join with Kansas , Missouri and Nebraska to form a new interstate group. Branstad's proposal came in an April letter to the governors of those states that was obtained by the Associated Press .  His case is that a current, broader interstate group, the Missouri River Association of States and Tribes, has leaned toward upstream states in setting policy. The letter came before severe floods on the Missouri River this year, which have led to broader questions about the Corps' management strategies. The governors of Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska haven't signed on to the idea yet.

REEF RESPONSE:  Louisiana 's Wildlife and Fisheries Commission is going to court to fight the legislature's decision to take money from a fund to create artificial reefs and use it to balance the budget, the Advocate reports . The legislature took $26 million from the Artificial Reef Development Fund Program, in a move the commission argues is unconstitutional because the fund was designed to serve a specific purpose. The program turns old oil and gas platforms into reefs, using contributions from energy companies that then avoid the expense of having to remove the platforms themselves.

VANDALS STRIKE: With Minnesota state parks closed due to lawmakers' failure to pass a budget, many of the state's properties have been attacked by vandals, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports . The vandals damaged buildings, stole equipment, cut locks and, in one case,  even spray-painted an extra body part on a Smokey Bear sign. "This is just exactly the type of thing we're going to be seeing repeatedly as the shutdown goes forward," Steve Morse, executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, told the paper. 

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