Virginia’s State Air Pollution Control Board (Board) yesterday approved a draft permit for a proposed natural gas-fired combined heat and power plant at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia. In comments to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) earlier this year, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) advocated for a hearing by the Board and raised concerns about pollution and environmental justice.
CBF Virginia Executive Director Peggy Sanner issued the following statement.
“In light of the increased pollution and potential health risks this plant poses to people living nearby, it is disappointing that the Board did not require monitoring and reporting of the plant’s actual emissions.
“We appreciate that members of the Board thoughtfully grappled with environmental justice questions, recognizing that much work remains following the landmark court decision on the Buckingham Compressor station and new environmental justice legislation. The Board’s meeting makes clear that Virginia still has a long road ahead to fully implement environmental justice in major decisions.
“There are serious environmental justice concerns around building a new fossil fuel plant in this predominantly African-American community, which is overwhelmed by health risks from industrial pollution. Portsmouth residents already live near high concentrations of toxic waste at the nine Superfund sites within a 15-mile radius.
“This new fossil fuel plant comes at a time when Virginia is transitioning to cleaner sources of energy in the face of climate change. The plant’s emissions would add new pollution to the Chesapeake Bay as Virginia nears its deadline to reduce pollution by 2025 under the Clean Water Blueprint.”