Virginia’s Biggest Global Warming Polluters

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Sarah Bucci

Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center

NORFOLK, Va – As the threat of flooding continues to plague Norfolk, a new report from Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center finds that Dominion Virginia Power subsidiaries run the commonwealth’s three biggest carbon-polluting power plants, producing as much global warming pollution as over 2 million cars each year.

Scientists predict that flooding and other extreme weather events will become more frequent and severe unless we act.

“Virginia’s dirtiest power plants are the elephant in the room when it comes to global warming,” said Environment Virginia’s federal field associate Madison Poche. “We can’t afford to ignore power plants’ overwhelming contribution to global warming. For Virginia, tackling the problem means cleaning up the dirtiest power plants and shifting to cleaner, more efficient energy sources.”

As the Obama administration also readies a new set of rules to tackle global warming, Environment Virginia Research and Policy Center’s report, titled, America’s Dirtiest Power Plants, illustrates the scale of carbon pollution from Virginia’s power sector and ranks the state’s biggest carbon polluters. The report’s key findings, which were drawn from data that power companies themselves, reported to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, include the following:

  • In Virginia, the top the 3 most polluting power plants are all owned by Dominion subsidiary Virginia Power and Energy Company. In order the are the Chesterfield, Clover, and Chesapeake Power Stations.
  • The Chesterfield Power Station is just 15 miles south of Richmond along the James River. The third most polluting power plant in Virginia, Chesapeake, is located within the Hampton Roads Beltway.
  • Virginia’s power plants together produce as much carbon each year as 7.1 million cars.

The new study also comes on the heels of the Obama administration awarding Dominion Virginia Power the right to lease roughly 113,000 acres for offshore wind power development off of Virginia’s coast. “Responsibly harnessing the power of the wind blowing off our coasts is critical for cutting pollution and repowering America with clean, renewable energy. Dominion has a great opportunity to show us all what real leadership looks like,” added Poche.

“People here need to be aware that whenever they switch turn on a light, use air conditioning, or leave a TV on, they support those who produce electricity based on coal, and they contribute to more extreme weather and sea level rise,” continued Dr. Hans-Peter Plag, Professor of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Old Dominion University. “Climate change is a global problem affecting people now, and to avoid the worst, we all need to take serious action and change the way we produce and use energy.”

This summer, President Obama directed his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants, the largest single source of carbon pollution. In a major step, the EPA is expected to propose an updated rule for cutting carbon pollution from new power plants on September 20. Virginians have already submitted over 130,000 public comments to EPA in support of limiting carbon pollution from power plants.

Environment Virginia is calling on state leaders like U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine to join them in supporting limits on power plants’ carbon pollution. “Virginia can’t afford to wait to act on climate, so it’s critical that Senators Warner and Kaine step up and support action,” concluded Poche.