Winning and Losing in Wise

For the last year in Virginia we have been fighting tooth and nail against a new coal fired power plant in Wise Co., Va, one of the few coal producing counties in this state, and a place where King Coal still definitely reigns, though today we dealt him a mighty blow.

Below you will find a dispatch from CCAN blogger Susanna, part 3 of a series about this last week in Wise, which you can find over at their Blog.

Pete Ramey“This week I’m going to be in Wise County, where Dominion Power is planning to build a $1.8 billion coal-fired power plant. Members of the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards and CCAN are putting on events around the meeting of the Air Board on Tuesday.

Today was the final day of the Air Board Hearing concerning the Wise County coal plant. The room was full of hope after yesterday’s comment period, and the board acknowledged the powerful citizen outcry over the plant’s health and environmental impacts. But ultimately, they approved the plant. While they significantly strengthened the emissions regulations, they did nothing to address mountain top removal mining or CO2 emissions.

They went as far as they could, without doing more harm than good. Fearing litigation from Dominion, they made no strong statement about regulating CO2—without the regulatory framework from the EPA, the Board felt it wasn’t able to take a strong stand. “My hope is,” stated one Air Board member, “that strong, forceful legislation will come at a federal level and that Governor Kaine will take state-specific actions to address CO2.”

It was because of the “loud public clamor” that the Air Board decided to take up this permit and make it as strong as it is now. Dominion will have to make a considerable effort to meet these demands, including cleaning up their mercury emissions. Dominion walked in the door expecting that their permit would get rubber-stamped approved with a 72 lb mercury emissions regulation. The Air Board demanded that they reduce that to 4.45 lbs per year. That’s a 120% reduction, made possible only by the strong grassroots outcry about this plant.

Continue reading