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Virginia residents outraged over company's decision to erect new facility: '[A] slap in the face'

The residents of Chesterfield are not buying it.

The residents of Chesterfield are not buying it.

Photo Credit: iStock

A newly proposed natural gas facility in Virginia has residents pushing back.

Dominion Energy, the state's largest utility provider, has revived a plan to build the facility in the city of Chesterfield, not far from another plant that just recently converted from coal to oil and gas, Inside Climate News reported.

What's happening?

Dominion had originally proposed the new plant in 2019 but scrapped those plans later that year, as reported by the Virginia Mercury. Now the company is again seeking permission to build the plant.

Dominion claims the gas-powered plant would only run during periods of high demand and that the plant is necessary due to the numerous data centers in the area.

The residents of Chesterfield aren't buying it.

The Virginia director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Victoria Higgins, called the project a "slap in the face" to the residents of Chesterfield, per Inside Climate News.

Ahead of a public meeting where residents had the chance to voice their concerns to Dominion representatives, Rachel James, a Chesterfield resident and associate attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said, "We are deeply concerned with Dominion's refusal to truly change course and move toward a clean and equitable energy system," adding, "SELC opposes this project."

At the public meeting, a resident who lives near the proposed site of the new plant, Lindsey Dougherty, expressed her opposition to the project, citing concerns about her child's health.

"My child has asthma," Dougherty said. "As a parent of a child who is already negatively impacted, this is just going to add to it. We are going to bear 100% of the negative health impacts and the costs as ratepayers."

The residents of Chesterfield are not buying it.
Photo Credit: Dominion Energy

Why the proposed power plant is concerning

Along with the air pollution caused by the nearby oil and gas-powered plant, which, again, just shut down its last coal-fired unit in late May, the building of this new plant will only add to the pollutants entering the atmosphere, posing health risks to nearby residents.

The new plant would produce an estimated 81.6 tons of particulate matter, and the equivalent of 2.2 million tons of carbon pollution to the atmosphere each year, the Virginia Mercury reported.

What's being done about air pollution in Virginia?

In 2020, Virginia passed the Clean Economy Act, which will require Dominion to deliver 100% of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2045, leading some to question why the company would want to build a new gas-powered plant now.

Bill Shobe, a professor of public policy at the University of Virginia, said, per Inside Climate News, "We should be developing a plan that gets us to 2050 and provides us with reliable electricity and allows us to continue to have data center growth without increasing our damaging CO2 emissions."

Shobe added: "When is Dominion going to take seriously the obligation to get us off the fossil fuel treadmill?"

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