Monday, January 25, 2021
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I got upset on the way to work this morning. This...

by Ronnie Ross, the Democratic candidate for the 27th Senate District.  His website is I got upset on the way to work this morning,...

AG Mark Herring Joins 19 State AGs Announcing Intent to Sue...

Nice work by Virginia AG Mark Herring, fighting back against another destructive, stupid, anti-environment, anti-health, anti-Americans'-pocketbooks Trump administration policy. AG HERRING JOINS 19 STATE ATTORNEYS...

Sierra Club Report Spotlights Worst Toxic Polluters in Virginia

Nice work by the VA Sierra Club. Note, by the way, that the most polluted places also - NOT coincidentally, as environmental justice advocates...

AG Mark Herring Opinion: Virginia Air Pollution Control Board Can Set...

Just got the following memo (see below) from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring's office. According to Herring's office, "Attorney General Herring has issued the...

NC Environmental Degradation Provides Cautionary Tale: Don’t NC VA

The Blue Virginia front page provides an excellent call by Andy Schmookler for liberals to come alive in 2014 and presumably to gain seats in the US House and hold onto the US Senate. His message could not be more important or timely. Congressional elections aren't far away. Virginia gained the top three executive positions and the Virginia Senate, but there is so much more to do. As if you need any reminder, your neighbor to the south provides a cautionary tale to never, ever give up. What's at stake is not only everything we hold dear, but also our ability to even live in our country or on this planet. The stranglehold by the corporate elite on environmental protection is that gripping. The Koch-Peter Peterson-Art Pope anti-environmental (indeed, anti-human) wrecking crew has succeeded at dismantling environmental protection in state after state. And the evidence is stunning. In the course of less than two weeks North Carolina shows what happens when you West Virginia a once progressive state.

(See the list below the fold.)

Giving Dominion Credit Where Credit Is Due, but Not Where It...

As you probably know, Blue Virginia - and RK before it - has not exactly been a big fan of Dominion Virginia Power. In fact, we're the ones who coined the slogan, "Dominion: Global Warming Starts Here." In general, I think it's fair to say that we look at anything and everything Dominion does with skepticism at best. Still, there are times when it's important to give credit where credit is due.

In this case, as you can see from the graphic, Dominion Virginia Power's emissions of major pollutants - SO2, NOx, and Mercury (Hg) have been plummeting, and are forecast to continue plummeting in coming years. Now, obviously, a lot of that is due to Dominion simply complying with what the law makes them do, while another part is due to Dominion switching away from dirty coal to cheaper - and also cleaner - natural gas. In addition, I'd really like to see a similar graph for what's arguably the most important emission of all - carbon dioxide, which is contributing to potentially catastrophic global warming. Still, what this graph displays is progress, and I think it's fair to give Dominion at least some credit for that.

New Mercury Emission Rules Demonstrate Why Voting Democratic Matters


It's decisions like this one which are exactly why we all need to vote for Democrats, not Republicans. No, Democrats aren't perfect by any means, but can you imagine this type of pro-environment move coming from a Gingrich or Romney or Perry or Paul administration? No, I didn't think so.

For more on this historic action towards protection of our air and water, see here. Also check out David Roberts' analysis, which concludes that this one is a "bona fide Big Deal" - in a very good way.

Shocker! Dominion Power, American Electric Power Huge Emitters of Neurotoxin Mercury

The following press release is the Sierra Club and Environment Virginia. Hmmmm...perhaps we should revise our slogan from "Dominion: Global Warming Starts Here" to "Dominion: Mercury Poisoning Starts Here?"
New Data Reveals the Heaviest Mercury Polluters in Virginia
Dominion is the biggest mercury polluter in the state; while American Electric Power (AEP) claims the title of biggest in the nation

ALEXANDRIA, VA - Today, representatives from Environment Virginia and the Sierra Club released new data on airborne mercury pollution emitted from coal-fired power plants throughout the nation with an emphasis on Virginia. The data reveals Dominion as the biggest mercury polluter in the state with a total of 491 pounds while American Electric Power (AEP) claims the title as biggest mercury polluter in the nation with 6,220 pounds emitted in 2010.  

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that harms children and pollutes the environment. Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury pollution in the country; emitting 2/3 of all airborne mercury pollution. Once in the air, mercury falls into waterways with rain or snow, where it builds up in fish and enters the food chain. Even a small drop of mercury is enough to make the fish in a 25-acre lake unsafe to eat.

"Parents in Virginia shouldn't have to worry that their children's bodies are toxic dumping grounds," said Caroline Kory, State Associate for Environment Virginia.  "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving forward to protect our children's health from toxic mercury pollution, and we can't let big polluters stand in the way."

Regulating Dirty Coal Will Kill Human-Killing Jobs

There's been a wave of closures recently at the oldest, dirtiest, most-polluting coal-fired power plants, including GenOn's Potomac River Generating Station in Alexandria and Dominion's Chesapeake Energy Center and Yorktown Power Plant. At, David Roberts says we should be celebrating the death of these power plants that we've been subsidizing at the cost of asthma attacks and heart failure:
The key thing to remember is that these are some of the most heavily subsidized jobs in the U.S. economy. They are subsidized at a level that makes anything Obama did with the stimulus bill look like pocket change.

Why is that so? Well, it's widely known by now, at least in economist circles, that the coal power industry grossly underpays for the damages it does. That's the unanimous conclusion of a flurry of new research that's been done on the question: see, e.g., the National Research Council (NRC), Harvard Medical School's Paul Epstein, or last week's bombshell from Yale's William Nordhaus and colleagues, which found that coal-fired power plants do 21 cents of unpaid damages for every single kilowatt hour of power they produce. Economists call these costs "externalities," but really they amount to subsidies -- the public is paying these costs on the coal companies' behalf. [...]

And these subsidies are not investments that pay back over time, like loans to innovative renewable energy firms. These subsidies come in the form of babies with birth defects, asthmatic kids, and adults with respiratory and heart ailments. These subsidies pay negative returns. They subtract value. All in the name of propping up a dying industry.

The Alexandria plant alone was estimated to kill 37 people & sicken hundreds of others every single year. But the coal industry keeps looking for someone to blame, and it's not just on the human costs of its pollution. As Coal Tattoo's Ken Ward Jr. reports, coal companies are desperately trying to pin falling Appalachian production on regulations & conservationists. That's instead of accepting the simple fact that the low-hanging fruit of Appalachian coal has long since been picked and what little is left is getting more & more expensive to blast out. For today's coal industry, reality is hard to face.

Dirty Distinction: Virginia 14th on Power Plant Pollution List

Mirant's coal-burning power plant in Alexandria, VirginiaVirginia comes in 14th-worst on a new ranking of states with the most toxic air pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants, according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council, released jointly with Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida have the highest levels of toxic power plant pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency is planning new rules to limit the toxic pollutants such as mercury, but those limits are coming under attack from friends of coal & oil in Congress:

The EPA estimates that the reductions of toxic pollution required by the pending "Mercury and Air Toxics" standard would save as many as 17,000 lives every year by 2015 and prevent up to 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms. The safeguards also would avoid more than 12,000 emergency room and hospital visits and prevent 850,000 lost work days every year.  These standards are expected to be finalized in November; the agency is taking public comments on its proposal until Aug. 4, 2011.

"Coal pollution is killing Americans," said Lynn Ringenberg, MD, of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "It is America's biggest source of toxic air pollution. Air toxics from coal-fired power plants cause cancer, birth defects, and respiratory illness. Just one of those air toxics, mercury, damages the developing brains of fetuses, infants, and small children.   It robs our children of healthy neurological development and native intelligence.

"Poisonous power threatens the health of our kids and families. As a pediatrician for over thirty years, I urge us absolutely to support the EPA's efforts to reduce the health threat from coal."

Tell the EPA, Senators Warner & Webb, and your member of the U.S. House to back strong mercury pollution standards.