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Environmental groups file new challenge to Dominion power plant

Staff Report • Oct 1, 2009 at 12:00 AM

ST. PAUL — A number of environmental organizations opposed to the construction of a new coal-fired power plant in Wise County have filed an appeal of a recent Richmond Circuit Court decision, this time targeting the plant’s carbon dioxide emissions permit.

Dominion began building the $1.8 billion, 585 megawatt electricity generating station in St. Paul last year and plans to have the facility operational in 2012.

Last month a Richmond judge determined all but one provision of a separate air permit issued by the Virginia Air Quality Control Board complied with state and federal air pollution laws. The one objectionable provision involved what the judge called an “escape clause” involving a stringent mercury emissions standard.

Dominion did not object to the provision being removed from the permit, and the state Air Board has since reissued the permit without the provision.

The Southern Environmental Law Center on Wednesday announced it has filed an appeal challenging the plant’s carbon dioxide emissions permit, the same day the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced its plans to establish nationwide emissions standards for the largest new and existing sources of the gas and five other pollutants.

“SELC and others all across the country maintain that carbon dioxide has been subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act for some time,” said SELC senior attorney Cale Jaffe. “We welcome the step EPA is taking today to set national emissions limits. It’s long overdue.”

The SELC filed the notice of appeal on behalf of Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Sierra Club and Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards. The SELC said the appeal is based, in part, on the claim that carbon dioxide is a pollutant subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act, and Dominion is obligated to undergo a “best available control technology” analysis for carbon dioxide before the utility can build and operate the plant.

The SELC said the Wise County plant would emit some 5.4 million tons of carbon dioxide every year for the life of the plant.

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