Earth Weekend
A Perfect Storm for Blue Crabs

Will Norfolk Flip Flop on Coal Plant?

Power plant
Norfolk City Council members have a great opportunity to do the right thing for Norfolk residents, citizens across Hampton Roads, and the Chesapeake Bay – provided they don’t cave in to pressure from Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC).

Here’s the deal and how you can help. The City Council is poised to vote Tuesday on a resolution putting Norfolk on record opposing an ODEC coal-fired power plant proposed in nearby Surry County. If built, the ODEC plant would be the largest coal-fired power plant in Virginia and spew thousands of tons of additional pollution into the Hampton Roads environment, threatening public health, local rivers and the Bay, and jeopardizing future economic development.

That’s why numerous organizations and thousands of citizens, many of which reside in Hampton Roads, oppose the plant. These include the Consortium for Infant and Child Health (CINCH) at Eastern Virginia Medical School, which wrote a letter this week to Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim bluntly describing the plant’s threat to children, the elderly, and those with lung ailments.

Other health groups that oppose the plant are the American Lung Association, the Virginia Asthma Coalition, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The 200,000-member Chesapeake Bay Foundation opposes the plant because of the enormous amounts of additional nitrogen, carbon dioxide, mercury, and other pollutants that would be added to local waterways and the already polluted Chesapeake Bay system. See our report on the likely health and environmental impacts here.

And other nearby Hampton Roads localities have opposed or expressed serious concerns about the plant, including Isle of Wight and Southampton counties and the City of Williamsburg.

For the past several months, Norfolk City Council has discussed opposing the plant as well. A formal resolution was drafted, discussed and approved by the appropriate council committee, and was to have been voted on at the council’s April 10 meeting. However, last-minute appeals to city officials from ODEC partners asking the city to postpone the vote prompted a two-week delay. The vote is now scheduled for Tuesday’s council meeting.

Despite previous public statements against the coal plant by many Norfolk council members, CBF and local citizens are concerned that an ODEC campaign to force a flip flop may be afoot. This is where you come in. 

If you agree the coal-fired power plant is a threat to public health, the environment, the economy, and quality of life in Hampton Roads and beyond, call or write Norfolk City Council members NOW. Let them know they have an obligation to do what’s in the best interests of Norfolk citizens, not the power or coal industry. Tell them to vote against the coal plant on Tuesday.

It’s your air, it’s your water, it’s your Bay. Don’t let this opportunity to make a difference pass.

Chuck Epes
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

(Photo: Getty Images)

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