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Environmental Groups to File Suit Over Va. Coal Plant

Opponents of a new coal plant currently under construction in Wise County, Va. say the project violates a landmark environment law — and they are taking their case to court to prove it.

The Southern Environmental Law Center (which represents groups such as the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network) plan on filing two lawsuits by the end of the month to stop construction and ensure that the Dominion Power plant never comes online. SELC senior attorney Cale Jaffe explained that the new plant violates the Clean Air Act by failing to use the best available pollution control technology for both conventional pollutants and hazardous air pollutants.

Naturally, the global warming debate plays a huge role in the fight over the new coal plant. A 585-megawatt project, the Wise County plant is going to emit serious amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. The SELC’s Jaffe says that Dominion failed to do an analysis of CO2 emissions or means for reduction. Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that CO2 and greenhouse gases are considered pollutants under the Clean Air Act, Jaffe says this could have serious consequences.

One of the world’s leading climate scientists, NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies director James Hansen, couldn’t agree more. He sent a letter (pdf here) to Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine — which Hansen calls "Dear Governor Greenwash" (pdf here) — urging him to stop the project.

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