Home Energy and Environment Virginian-Pilot Calls Out “Norfolk’s Coal Embarrassment”

Virginian-Pilot Calls Out “Norfolk’s Coal Embarrassment”


Mountaintop Removal in West VirginiaNorfolk City Council has refused to take a firm stand against a proposed new coal-fired power plant that would cause dozens of premature deaths in the city each year:

A representative from Norfolk Southern – which transports lots of coal – argued that it would be premature for the council to vote on the resolution so early in the project’s permitting process. He’s wrong. The Dendron power plant, as planned right now, would cause damage downwind. No amount of time will change that.

Norfolk City Council’s interests lie in protecting its people, its water supply, its food sources from farms throughout the region. The potential for huge amounts of new pollution, for tons of carcinogens to infiltrate our environment through smog, wind and rain, calls for adamant, continuing, loud opposition.

Norfolk instead got embarrassment and questions about the allegiances of city leaders.

The new plant doesn’t just face serious public health questions – it also faces major economic ones. At a time when natural gas is far cheaper & wind is creating far more jobs, why should we invest $6 billion in Virginia ratepayer money in a polluting coal-fired power plant?  

  • Eileen Levandoski

    Big Oil and Big Coal came to Norfolk Virginia on Tuesday to attempt injection of their dirty energy agenda on the good citizens of Hampton Roads. And we sent them home packing!

    Their numbers were slim at the two hearings where the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management sought public comment on its draft EIS supporting seismic air gun use in exploring for oil and gas off our coast.  One by one, 27 individuals stood up to support the health and welfare of our marine mammals to include especially the endangered North Atlantic right whale, less than 400 of which exist in this world.

    The best Big Oil could offer was the same ol’ “it can be done in an environmentally safe way” utterances that we heard before pre-BP Gulf oil spill disaster.  Almost half of their 14 speakers were electeds, representing electeds or appointees.  Theirs was the political fear-mongering song-and-dance trying lamely to connect gas prices to our lack of Atlantic coast drilling, clueless to the fact that we need to rid our addiction to oil.

    In the end, a good core of activists were reunited to plan another successful Hands Across the Sand event on August  4, 2012 and to again illustrate that Virginians oppose offshore drilling.  So stay tuned!

    On the other side of town in Norfolk City Hall, the Big Coal train (namely Norfolk Southern) attempted to derail a Resolution by Norfolk City Council in opposition to the proposed ODEC Surry coal plant.  Over 700 residents of Norfolk blasted emails to Council and dozens spoke out at this meeting and previous committee meetings.  We kept the heat on which allowed us to prevent Big Coal’s hijacking of the resolution with watered down language.  Instead we saw passage, albeit not ideal, of a provisional opposition resolution.  

    A special tip of the hat to many of our volunteers and especially Councilman Tommy Smigiel who worked extra hard on this Resolution as a tribute to Maria LoPresto, who tragically and suddenly passed away a few weeks ago.  Maria served on the Norfolk Environmental Commission and was long before starting to work for the Sierra Club a very active environmentalist.  We love and miss you, Maria!

    Media Hits:

    Pilot Article: Tempers flare as Norfolk shifts on coal-fired plant

    Pilot Article: Opponents face off over Virginia offshore drilling

    Video: WAVY TV 10 News coverage

    Pilot OpEd: Norfolk’s coal embarrassment

    LTE: Oil Spills Effects Unclear