A circuit court judge in Richmond may rule by the end of next week on a challenge by environmental groups to state emissions permits issued for a new coal-fired power plant Dominion is building in Wise County.
Southern Environmental Law Center attorneys representing the Wise Energy for Virginia Coalition and other environmental organizations asked Richmond Circuit Judge Margaret Spencer on Friday to invalidate the air emissions permits granted last year by the State Air Control Board, alleging the permits fail to adequately limit emissions of carbon dioxide, particulates and mercury.
Dominion started construction last summer on the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, a $1.8 billion, 585 megawatt, coal-fired electricity generating station at a site across a ridge from downtown St. Paul. Dominion wants to have the power plant operational in 2012.
Dominion spokesman Greg Edwards said Virginia Air Board and utility attorneys told the judge the air permits exceed legal emissions limits on all counts.
“The air permits for the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center were considered over a two-year period by (Virginia Department of Environmental Quality) staff and the Virginia Air Board, and the permits that were issued we believe are the most ever issued in the United States for a coal-fired power plant,” Edwards said. “In fact our attorney said possibly (the most stringent) in the world.”
Edwards said the judge “indicated she intended to rule by the end of next week, and we are not going to speculate on what she might do or what her ruling might be.”