The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Board today decided to submit public comments to the Commonwealth of Virginia questioning plans to build a coal-fired power plant in southwestern Virginia’s Wise County. Board members said the plant could slow progress on reducing greenhouse gases in the National Capital Region. The Board also released a report cataloging successful programs by area governments to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Dominion Energy, which is proposing the plant in southwestern Virginia, would also convert the coal-fired Bremo plant in Fluvanna County to natural gas if the Wise facility is built. While a natural gas powered Bremo plant would eliminate an estimated 0.6 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the Wise facility would add an estimated 4.7 million metric tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions making it more difficult for the National Capitol Region to meet its proposed emissions reduction goal for 2012 of 8 million metric tonnes.
“The Wise County plant is capable of erasing the progress on greenhouse gas reductions that we’ve been making in this region,” said Arlington County Board Member Jay Fisette. He and other COG Board Members supported a resolution for COG to send a letter of public comment to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality urging them to thoroughly analyze alternatives such as renewable energy and energy conservation before issuing a permit to construct the new facility. Board Members, including Virginia State Delegate James Scott, did commend Dominion for its proposal to convert the Bremo plant from coal to natural gas.
The COG Board also approved recommendations by its Climate Change Steering Committee, chaired by Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Floreen, to support the general goals of federal legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions, such as the current bill “America’s Climate Security Act” by Sen. John Warner (R-VA) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT). The action also called for a stronger role for local and regional entities in the climate change effort.
Local governments in the National Capital Region are playing a key role in reducing greenhouse gases according to COG’s National Capital Region: Best Practices and Policies to Reduce Greenhouse Gases. The COG report is a survey of successful area government programs, and it can be used as a tool for communities interested in sustainable growth options. The report found that:
- Over 2/3 of local governments in the region purchase renewable energy to power government operations, with wind energy being the most popular energy alternative
- Over 1⁄2 of the jurisdictions adopt energy efficiency measures, including lighting retrofits for compact fluorescents and LED bulbs, upgrading to Energy Star appliances during scheduled replacements, and installing energy management control systems to turn off energy when not in use
- Nearly 90% of the communities in the region have embarked on transit oriented development and over 80% have “walkable community” initiatives
- About 70% of communities have green space protection and green infrastructure programs
- Some jurisdictions encourage residents and businesses to switch to green energy through programs such as “Clean Energy Rewards”
- All communities in the region have recycling programs.
For a copy of the report, visit National Capital Region: Best Practices and Policies to Reduce Greenhouse Gases.