Wise County Coal Power Plant

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The nation’s leading voice for the national parks, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), recently submitted comments and an expert’s report to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) asserting that Dominion Power’s proposal to build a coal-burning power plant in Wise County, Virginia, would use outdated technology and unnecessarily pollute Virginia communities and national parks in Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina. NPCA is advocating for a more effective pollution control technology system that is better for the environment, the health of local residents, and the economy of the region.

“The proposed power plant will pollute our skies and significantly degrade the air quality in our national parks,” said Catharine Gilliam, NPCA Virginia program manager. “We must ensure that if a new coal-fired power plant is built, the best possible technology is used to protect the health of our citizens, wildlife, and national parks. Calling this a ‘clean coal’ plant doesn’t mean its actually using the cleanest technology.”

A recent National Park Service analysis found that pollution from Dominion’s proposed plant would degrade air quality at the Blue Ridge Parkway in both Virginia and North Carolina, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina. The Park Service identified better technologies that will reduce harmful pollution, and urged Dominion to consider them.

NPCA commissioned Hensley Energy Consulting, LLC to review Dominion’s draft permit and determine whether the plant really would use the “cleanest” possible technology, as Dominion claims, or whether alternate technologies might reduce the pollution impact on Virginia communities and nearby national parks.

Key findings of the analysis include:
·Dominion’s plant would produce significantly more air emissions and solid waste than alternative technologies, even those that use coal as fuel.

·Data shows that the Dominion project will produce substantially more pollution. Compared to the “best in class” Supercitical Pulverized Coal projects, the Dominion plant will produce 7 to 10 times more sulfur dioxide, and 50 to 150 percent more carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and mercury emissions. Compared to the “best in class” Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (known as IGCC) technology, the Dominion project will produce approximately 5 to 15 times the amount of mercury, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds emissions.

·Dominion claims its plant can be “retrofit” at some later date to capture greenhouse gas emissions. But the Hensely report shows it will be far more costly over the long run to change the existing plant to capture greenhouse gases than to build an IGCC plant today.

·Cleaner technologies like IGCC and Supercritical Pulverized Coal plants are already in use, and are not “experimental” as Dominion maintains. The National Park Service provided DEQ with an extensive list of existing and planned applications of these technologies.

NPCA is encouraging the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board to take control of the process for evaluating the permit for Dominion’s proposed plant, which until now has been managed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The Air Pollution Control Board has delegated routine permits to the DEQ Director, but has the option to decide to review certain cases where there is significant public interest and issues at stake such as in this case. The Air Pollution Control Board will meet on Thursday, March 20, 2008, in Alexandria.

For more information, visit: www.deq.virginia.gov.

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