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Massachusetts wants the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to shut down by March and a U.S. District Court judge in Vermont approved a request for the state to file a brief in support of the shutdown efforts.

Judge J. Garvan Murtha’s ruling will permit Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley to submit an amicus curiae, or friend of the court brief, by June 13, supporting Vermont’s position that it can deny Entergy’s Vermont Yankee a new certificate of public good, effectively requiring it to close, regardless of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s March decision to renew the plant’s operating license for 20 more years.

Entergy in April filed suit in the court, asking it to issue an injunction against the state’s efforts to shut the plant. Entergy argued Vermont’s action “is preempted by the federal Atomic Energy Act” of 1954 because a “state may not interfere with the federal government’s exclusive authority over the operation of a nuclear power plant.”

Murtha set a hearing for June 23 and 24 on Entergy’s motion. Company officials have said it needs to decide by July whether to purchase nuclear fuel for the plant ahead of a planned October refueling outage.

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