Major Victory on Coal Ash Pollution in Virginia!

Photo by Tusik Only

We had a big victory on coal ash yesterday. Virginia Governor McAuliffe signed into law safeguards to protect public health and the environment that we’ve been fighting for years and put a freeze on all coal ash solid waste permits! Last year’s coal ash bill died quietly in committee. Dominion seemed poised to get the permits it needed to cap-in-place millions of tons of toxic coal ash on the banks of rivers around the state. All of that has changed because we refused to quit! When the state of Maryland opted to settle with Dominion, we kept fighting for the Potomac River and communities impacted by coal ash!

​”​Governor McAuliffe made the right choice by signing into law common sense precautions to protect Virginians from potential harm related to toxic coal ash. Coal ash is one of the largest sources of industrial waste in the country, and contains arsenic and other heavy metals that increase the risk of cancer. Safely managing it is critical to protecting public health and our water resources. We thank the Governor for his leadership on this important issue.​” Dean Naujoks, Potomac Riverkeeper

We still have a ways to go to ensure full clean up of toxic ash ponds but this bill pried open the door to get us one step closer to full clean up as other states have done. Potomac Riverkeeper Network, the James River Association (Upper and Lower James Riverkeeper), and our legal partners at SELC did the bulk of the heavy lifting on this bill. Together with the James Riverkeepers and SELC, our legal fights against coal ash and the grassroots community organizing over toxic coal ash pollution drove this issue to become a top environmental priority for environmental groups and lawmakers across the state. And to think that no one was really even working on the problem of coal ash pollution in Virginia two years ago!