VA Legislature Acts on Coal Ash – A Little

Yesterday, the Virginia Commerce & Labor Committee dealt with the six coal ash bills referred to it. Here is the bill that was passed out of the Committee. It does 3 things:

  • Imposes a moratorium on DEQ issuing any coal ash solid waste permits at Dominion sites until July 1, 2019.
    • Exception – allows DEQ to permit closure of ponds that coal ash has been moved out of, or is being moved out of – at Possum Point, this would be Ponds E, A ,B, C.
  • Requires Dominion to issue a RFP by July 1, 2018 for a report that will determine
    • The amount of recyclable ash at each site
    • The cost of recycling
    • The market demand for the recycled ash
  • Establishes December 1, 2018 as the deadline for Dominion to submit this recycling report to Chair of Senate/House Commerce/Labor committees, the Governor, DEQ and Department of Conservation and Recreation.

We’re disappointed that the legislature did not take this opportunity to fix the problem. Residents whose drinking wells have been contaminated and the communities around Dominion’s coal ash ponds want action now on cleaning up this toxic coal ash problem —  which should have been cleaned up years ago, like other states which are doing right now.

We support the moratorium  — anything that really helps to solve the problem is good — and we will work over the next year with Governor Northam and his environmental advisors to develop a plan for recycling and proper disposing of 30 million tons of toxic coal ash, so that it no longer contaminates local residents’ drinking water and pollutes our rivers. The legislature’s focus on recycling and safe disposal reaffirms the fact that capping the ash in place will not protect public health and our rivers, and must be rejected as an option for Dominion’s coal ash ponds.

While we believe the legislature has all the information it needs to ensure safe disposal and recycling of coal ash now, we welcome the opportunity to provide lawmakers with more information over the coming year, to prove that recycling and offsite disposal is the best option for ridding our communities of this toxic waste and preventing further pollution of our rivers.

Read the bill here.