Sierra Club’s Top 10 Virginia Environmental Stories of 2012


    As we move into 2013, it is important to take a moment and reflect on what we accomplished (and what we didn’t) this past year.  It is amazing how many victories we achieved and with your help we can have even better 2013.  

    Here, then, are our Top 10 Virginia environmental stories, both the good and the bad.  Expect several of these fights to continue into 2013

    1.  The re-election of President Obama and Election of Tim Kaine to the Senate – Voters rejected climate deniers Romney and Allen despite BIG Coal and BIG Oil attack ads!

    2. Uranium mining defeated in 2012  No bill introduced in the 2012 General Assembly Session but Governor McDonnell spends $1.2 million of taxpayer money in support of new regulations to allow uranium mining. Fight resumes in 2013 General Assembly Session  

    3. ODEC Coal Plant in Surry County is defeated in September!  Potomac River Coal Plant in Alexandria closes Oct 1!

    4. George Washington National Forest supports fracking ban in the forest (but frackers are working to allow fracking behind the scenes). Stadium Woods saved on the Virginia Tech campus for now.

    5. EPA finalizes Mercury Rule that prompts Dominion and AEP to retire several old, obsolete and dirty coal plants.

    6. Support for Offshore Wind in Virginia Grows American Wind Energy Association holds its Annual Conference in Virginia Beach, federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management process moves forward on Virginia lease block

    7.  Public transit advances across Virginia:  Loudoun County votes to extend the Silver Line; Arlington and Fairfax approve the Columbia Pike transit line from the Pentagon to Baileys Crossroads/Skyline and Virginia Beach referendum on the extension of the Tide Light rail passes by 60%.

    8. Governor McDonnell attempts to open up a 50 mile long corridor in southwest Virginia to mountaintop removal coal mining in the name of the Coalfields Expressway-a strip coal mine masquerading as a road.   Virginia’s largest coal company, Alpha Natural Resources, named as the highway contractor.  Governor McDonnell attempts ram new US 460 highway thru southeastern Virginia. Sierra Club continues to fight both these boondoggle projects

    9. Virginia General Assembly votes to further weaken Virginia’s renewable energy law while Dominion rips off rate payers $76 million for phantom renewable energy.

    10. State Corporation Commission approves Dominion’s first solar project, a 30 MW pilot solar project. but NJ already has 900 MW installed–30 times what Dominion even proposes as a pilot.    

    • clark

      Not necessarily in the top 10 (though I’d argue it should be!), the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted in December to limit the total amount of menhaden fish that can be harvested. Virginia is the only state on the commission (15 states total) that allows a corporate fishing enterprise to harvest menhaden- a fish that is critical to our ecosystem and is being overharvested… the menhaden is the only fish species managed by the General Assembly- all others are regulated by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. You read that right- the General Assembly doesn’t manage crabs or oysters or trout, but still manages menhaden. Because Virginia has done nothing to manage menhaden, we now will follow the decision of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.