Home Energy and Environment Dominion Files Brief in Favor of EPA Clean Power Plan

Dominion Files Brief in Favor of EPA Clean Power Plan


Here at Blue Virginia, we never hesitate to blast Dominion, or the politicians they keep in their air-conditioned kennels, for all these folks do to hold back our clean energy future.

But I believe in acknowledging when they do something right too.  So here I will give some (qualified) kudos to Dominion for the company’s filing of an amicus brief in favor of EPA’s Clean Power Plan this past week.

While it falls short of a ringing endorsement of the rule, Dominion does deserve credit for choosing not to take the path of so many of its fellow electric utilities – and more than half of America’s most backward states – of fierce opposition and legal challenge.  In supporting the Clean Power Plan, the company puts its massive thumb on the scale in favor of the right of future generations to a stable climate, and all the health, safety and peace that comes with it.

To be sure, every time in its filing that Dominion calls the regulation “challenging but feasible” and the timeline “reasonable”, it caveats these statements with the need for EPA and the states to maintain “flexibility” and a menu of options for implementation.  In this brief, Dominion takes a stand in favor of the market-based approach that George H.W. Bush’s very successful EPA Administrator Bill Reilly brought to the environmental field.

Yes, it was Republicans who created the market-based concept of “cap and trade”, the very same regulatory approach mercilessly vilified by the Tea Party loons who killed the Waxman Markey climate change bill of 2009 – thereby leaving America without a policy to deal with the most serious long term public health, environmental, infrastructural and economic challenge of our time.  It was that legislative failure that led the Obama administration to decide instead to take the regulatory route of the Clean Power Plan, which indeed does allow much flexibility and market-based options for states to take in meeting these carbon emissions standards.

Dominion makes a case for returning to the days of bipartisan support for common sense solutions: “Real-world experience, academic theory, and industry consensus all indicate that market-based measures are an optimal approach for states to adopt in air quality regulatory plans” – potentially including carbon dioxide cap and trade policies.

Sad to say, Dominion says little about renewables in its brief, and never even mentions that naughty word “efficiency.”  The company makes it clear that a large part of its plans to reduce its carbon footprint will continue to involve substituting natural gas for coal.  While this strategy has led Virginia to significant emissions reductions, it does not allow us to gain the multiple benefits that accrue from investing in the multitude of truly clean power options, from wind to solar to efficiency, that will free us from the pollution, climate disruption and geopolitical complications of our addiction to fossil fuels.

Yet, for all of its conservatism, Dominion’s stance on this matter is to the left of much of the Republican party and even, interestingly, of its own regulators, Virginia’s State Corporation Commission, which released an attack on the Clean Power Plan over a year ago – a wrong-headed piece that was pretty easy to rip to shreds.

To be sure, Dominion does what is best for Dominion’s bottom line – they have not suddenly graduated to environmental sainthood.  But the fact that the company has come down on the right side of such a critical issue provides a glimmer of hope that perhaps their management may one day become an actual ally in our battle to create a Clean Energy Commonwealth.  Hey, a guy can hope…


  • Elaine Owens

    Hmmm. I wonder if Dominion’s conversion to a “sort-of” defender of the environment has anything to do with its proposed Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline. Helping it to meet EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan would give Dominion yet another justification for that pipeline. Just asking…

    • That’s my guess. I certainly wouldn’t trust these @#$@#$s as far as they can be thrown…

  • Suzanne

    Pure propaganda on Dominion’s part. They have to look as if they are interested in clean air as they continue to build dirty fracked gas power plants and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline as well as Cove Point to export liquidized dirty fracked gas to India and Japan. This is PR and nothing more.

    • Agreed.

    • Kindler

      Yet they are among the only power companies to file a brief in support of the Clean Power Plan, excepting a few of the more progressive California utilities. They didn’t have to take this step, and could easily have either joined the lawsuit or sat on the sidelines.

      Are there motives pure? Of course not! But I see the fact that they saw this brief as a pragmatic move as a potentially positive sign.

      • Right, but if they see this as a way to get more fracked natural gas, it’s not really anything positive. I guess the bottom line for me is I see Dominion as fundamentally flawed, unwilling to change, and far more concerned with buying up our government than in the future of our planet.

  • Morris Meyer

    I read through the brief (which really is good thick regulatory reading), and they want to use cap-and-trade to keep coal plants open. Also they would like the Atlantic Pipeline to further their natural gas transition.

    It briefly mentions renewables as a generation strategy along with natural gas. No distributed grid, storage, specifics on renewables or mention of energy efficiency.

    From a Virginia legislative position they would prefer to let market forces dictate their fate and not have any pesky oversight from Richmond. The parties that signed onto the brief was very interesting in that they are more in line with communities and power companies pushing for new technology (City of Austin, National Grid, and others).

    TL;DR – the fierce urgency of whenever.

    • Yep, our “friends” (and by “friends” I mean “enemies”) at Dominion are worried about “more premature and inefficient closures of power plants—most notably coalfired power plants, including those for which other pollutants have already been well-controlled, often at recent and significant customer expense.”

      • Morris Meyer

        All natural gas pipeline expanding Dominion is sort of a trailing indicator in terms of climate change. They might get a completely different view with President Sanders (Atlantic Coastal NatGas Pipeline to a Dominion LNG export terminal cancelled). Which might in turn be why they are filing the brief to sign on to a decarbonizing regime that matches the business interests.

  • Leedynamo

    Of course, Cap&Trade is bad policy, but I’m glad they’re starting to inch in the right direction. A Carbon Tax will be relatively simple. It will be straight forward and fair.

    What they say about “market-based” is probably a bunch of hooey. We need to incentivize Reduced use of Fossil Fuels. The End.

  • Key line from the brief, showing how Dominion sees the CPP as an argument for more fracked natural gas: “Dominion expects that its proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline will play a key role in achieving cost-effective USCA Case #15-1363 Document #1606771 Filed: 04/01/2016 Page 19 of 32 compliance with the Rule for Dominion and other regulated power plants in Virginia and North Carolina by enabling increased amounts of low-emitting natural gas-fired electric generation.”