SEAC forms new group to fight building of coal plant

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February 17, 2009

12:39 AM

The Surry Justice League met Feb. 9 to discuss effective ways of informing citizens of Surry County of the negative environmental aspects of a proposed coal plant in Dendron, Va.

The Old Dominion Electric Cooperative proposed the construction of a coal plant outside of Dendron last December. The plant would be within 25 miles of the College of William and Mary, and if the proposal is approved, ODEC hopes to begin building the coal plant.

Stephanie Gans, a member of the College’s Student Environmental Action Coalition, created the Surry Justice League, which aims to inform Surry community members and help organize protests against the proposed plant.

The group is worried that the plant will cause lasting damage to the local environment such as mountain top removal, increased pollution, and the chemical contamination of the Chesapeake Bay.

According to Gans, ODEC is applying for two pollution permits.

“One [permit] allows them to pollute CO2 and other greenhouse gases,” she said. “The other permit is so they can pollute the bad stuff such as mercury, [and] will be ready with the application by June. We want to nip it in the bud and not let it get off the ground.”

Advocates of the Surry Coal Plant believe the plant would bring jobs to the area and increase tax revenue, reviving the local economy. They also believe it would soften the effect of an increased energy demand from other parts of the state expected to occur over the next 15 years.

The Surry Justice League, however, argues that the coal plant would not bring jobs to Dendron since the plant will require specialists, who will need to be brought from outside the area.

“We need to let them know that most of the jobs will be from outsiders,” said Jess Mackow, SEAC and Surry Justice League member.

Organizations such as Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Appalachian Voices, and the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewarts that protested the construction of the Wise County Coal Plant two years ago have already began fighting the ODEC’s official plant proposal. ODEC expects the proposal to be released in June.

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