Environmental coalition files latest legal charges against Wise Co. coal plant
Today a coalition of environmental organizations filed their latest legal challenges to stop Dominion Power from building a coal-fired power plant in Wise County. The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed two petitions for appeal in the Virginia Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, one for each of two air pollution permits issued by the state.
“The process for the development of these permits was fundamentally flawed, so not surprisingly, the permit limits fail to meet federal standards for protecting public health and the environment,” said Cale Jaffe, senior attorney with SELC. He filed the petitions on behalf of the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Sierra Club.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) developed the permits without having completed complex, technical reviews mandated by the Clean Air Act, the petitions say. Although the State Air Pollution Control Board substantially revised the permits at a public meeting on June 25 prior to approving them, the permits remain flawed and unlawful, Jaffe said. “For months, DEQ failed to conduct the required analyses. The air board came in on one day and tried to determine what the right permit limits should have been,” Jaffe said. “But these are not errors that can be corrected with a few back-of-the-envelope calculations.”
The groups also cite the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality's failure to require reductions in carbon dioxide, a known global warming pollutant regulated by the Clean Air Act. The Wise County coal plant would produce 5.37 million tons of CO2 every year, equivalent to the amount released annually by all private motor vehicles in the Richmond metropolitan area.
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The mission of the Wise Energy for Virginia Coalition is to stop Dominion Power's proposed coal-burning power plant in Wise County and turn Virginia toward a cleaner, sustainable energy future.