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Is The Fat Lady Singing for Virginia's Largest Coal Plant?

ODEC 1New EPA regulations on carbon dioxide emission could doom the largest coal-fired power plant ever proposed for Viginia, the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) plant in the rural town of Dendron, according to the Norfolk Virginian Pilot.

“The coal plant project that sparked a civil war in this tiny hamlet could be dead -- done in by new air pollution limits and residents who gummed up the works long enough to cost the plant its chance to be exempt,” the newspaper wrote.

One of those heroic local residents who fought the ODEC plant (along with the protesters shown above) was blueberry farmer Mike Drewry, whose temporary legal victory over the plant’s rezoning was profiled in Bay Daily on March 7.

The fat lady hasn’t yet sung for the ill-advised power plant, however.  A legal challenge could be filed against the Obama Adminsitration’s new limits on carbon dioxide. Opponents of the ODEC plant, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, are remaining vigilant and are working with local municipalities to pass formal resolutions of opposition to the proposal.  The clean air and water advocates are planning to be ready for no matter what happens. They are preparing for the possibility that ODEC could still proceed -- despite the federal carbon dioxide regulations -- and submit a permit application in 2013 or 2014.

 But the sky is certainly darkening for ODEC.

The company planned to break ground this year on the 1,500-megawatt Cypress Creek Power Station in Dendron, located in Surry County, west of Hampton Roads. Now that timetable appears to be impossible, the company is reporting.

"There's no way our board will approve spending that kind of money with all this uncertainty in the regulatory environment," said David Hudgins, ODEC's director of external relations, in the Virginian-Pilot. "This rule will be litigated until the cows come home."

Assuming these particular toxic cows never do come home, the defeat of the ODEC plant would be a great victory for public health.

A Chesapeake Bay Foundation report last year detailed the disease, illness and problems that would rise from the microscopic soot particles and other pollutants pouring out of the plant’s smokestacks, including 26 premature deaths a year, 40 heart attacks, 442 asthma attacks, and 3,340 lost work days annually due to illness.

There is also the potential damage to rivers, streams, and the Bay to be considered.  At a time when Virginia recently disclosed that more miles of its waterways are polluted than before, and when the state is working hard to implement a plan to meet strict new federal and pollution limits, building a coal-fired power plant that would add more pollution makes no sense.

By Tom Pelton

Chesapeake Bay Foundation



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Let's hold tightly to the second shoe and remain vigilant. I can't wait 'til the curtain closes on this would-be tragedy. Power to the people! Power to the next generation. After all, this is what it's all about!

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