Vermont’s attorney general on Saturday appealed a federal district court’s January decision that invalidated two Vermont statutes and ruled that Entergy could operate the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant beyond a state-mandated shutdown deadline of March 21, 2012.

The state’s appeal, which will be considered by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City, appeals all aspects of the district court’s Jan. 19 judgment.

The district court invalidated state laws that would force closure of the 40-year-old plant, which recently garnered a 20-year operating license extension from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The statutes are preempted by federal law, U.S. District Judge Garvan Murtha ruled in January.

“We have strong arguments to make on appeal. The district court’s decision improperly limits the State’s legitimate role in deciding whether Vermont Yankee should operate in Vermont beyond March 21, 2012,” Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said in a statement.

“The court’s undue reliance on the discussions among our citizen legislators, expert witnesses, advocates, and their constituents has the potential to chill legislative debates in the future. Left unchallenged, this decision could make it harder for ordinary Vermonters to clearly state their views in future legislative hearings.”

Vermont is the only state in the U.S. with authority over its nuclear facilities, but the case is being closely watched by states like New York, where aging nuclear reactors operate.

Sources: POWERnews, Vermont Attorney General