As Dominion Virginia Power began releasing treated coal ash wastewater into the James River this week after months of controversy, Gov. Terry McAuliffe is taking a hit from environmental groups.
A new report compiled by regional green activists and others rates McAuliffe a D-plus on his climate change and clean energy priorities. He was given an F for enabling “toxic coal ash pollution” and a D-minus for pushing fossil fuel expansion through his support of two natural gas pipelines and gas plants.
The report was compiled by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Virginia Organizing, the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition and Interfaith Power & Light.
A second report gives Virginia a failing grade for its overall policy toward promoting rooftop solar power and being one of the 10 worst states in the nation in this category, according to the report by the green group Center for Biological Diversity.
Other states accused of policies that block distributed solar development include Alabama, Florida, Wisconsin and Georgia. According to the report, the 10 states make it hard for people or companies that generate electricity from solar panels on their property to sell it into local utilities.
On Tuesday, Dominion started dumping treated coal ash wastewater into the James River at its Bremo Power Station about 50 miles northwest of Richmond. The utility received a permit from the State Water Control Board for the plan in January, but later amended it to include more safeguards and monitoring after the James River Association and the Southern Environmental Law Center threatened legal action.
The equivalent of 240 Olympic-sized swimming pools containing treated wastewater will be pumped into the James until May 2017.
After the dewatering is completed, Dominion will seal Bremo’s three coal ash pits. The plant recently converted from coal to natural gas for its fuel.