Kudos to Norfolk City Councilmembers Tommy Smigiel, Andy Protogyrou, Barclay Winn, and Theresa Whibley, who put the health and well-being of Norfolk citizens ahead of corporate influence and political pressure.
At a meeting of the Norfolk City Council this week, the four voted in favor of a city resolution formally opposing a mega coal-fired power plant proposed in nearby Surry County. This despite considerable lobbying pressure from power plant supporters to dissuade the city from taking a position on the controversial project.
In the end, the resolution opposing the plant failed to win a majority of votes. An alternative resolution was adopted stating Norfolk is “provisionally opposed” because of a host of health, environmental, and economic concerns. The approved resolution suggests the city will revisit the issue after additional study and perhaps remove the “provisional” language.
Opponents include the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). The ODEC plant will dump nearly 2 million more pounds of nitrogen a year into an already nitrogen-polluted Bay system -- additional pollution currently unaccounted for in the Bay pollution limits and that will undercut Virginia’s efforts to restore the Bay. Instead, CBF advocates for less environmentally damaging alternatives to the power plant, such as energy conservation and development of more sustainable “green” energy resources, to provide for the region’s future electricity needs.
Still, the stance Norfolk, the second most-populated locality in Hampton Roads, has taken in provisional opposition sends a strong message that the proposed ODEC plant poses very serious threats to the region. CBF commends Norfolk City Council for acknowledging these threats and for its commitment to complete an efficient and thorough analysis of the risks to drinking water, air quality, and public health.
If you live in the Hampton Roads, CBF encourages you to contact your local elected officials and urge them to oppose this plant. In addition to Norfolk, other localities in the region that have opposed the project or expressed serious concerns include Isle of Wight and Southampton counties and the City of Williamsburg. If you care about clean air and clean water, add your locality to the list.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Photos: Top iStock; Norfolk City Council (top to bottom): Tommy Smigiel, Theresa Whibley, Andy Protogyrou, Barclay Winn