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Central Virginia Lawmakers Say Chesterfield Gas Plant Not in Line with State Law

Photo courtesy of Phuong Tran, Southern Environmental Law Center

Controversial plant would undermine climate law passed by legislature

RICHMOND, VA — This morning, nine legislators from the central Virginia state delegation issued a statement in opposition to Dominion Energy’s proposed Chesterfield gas plant. The letter comes on the heels of a community meeting hosted by Senator Ghazala Hashmi (D-Chesterfield), attended by over 100 Chesterfield community members. The letter also criticizes Dominion’s 2023 Integrated Resource Plan, pointing out that the plan nearly doubles carbon emissions over the next 15 years despite state law mandating a transition to renewable energy. 

Per the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act, Dominion is bound to shift its generation mix towards zero-emission resources on a year-by-year basis. By 2045, its electricity mix must be 100% carbon-free. New gas plants have an anticipated lifespan of 40 years, and with an expected in-service date of 2027, Dominion’s gas plant would continue emitting carbon 22 years after the company is required to achieve zero emissions. 

The letter was signed by Senator Hashmi, Senator Lamont Bagby (D-Richmond), Senator Lashrecse Aird (D-Petersburg), Delegate Delores McQuinn (D-Henrico), Delegate Betsy Carr (D-Richmond), Delegate Rodney Willett (D-Henrico), Delegate Rae Cousins (D-Richmond), Delegate Michael Jones (D-Richmond), and Delegate Debra Gardner (D-Chesterfield). 

Victoria Higgins, Virginia Director of CCAN, issued the following statement: 

“The state lawmakers that signed this letter represent the communities most impacted by this polluting gas plant. Their opposition makes clear that Dominion’s plans are incompatible with the clean energy transition envisioned by the Virginia Clean Economy Act and mandated by the General Assembly. Constructing a massive gas plant in the midst of a climate crisis is inexcusable, unnecessary, and offensive to communities who expect their government to deliver cleaner air, a healthy environment, and a stable planet. We extend our gratitude to the central Virginia delegation for unequivocally demonstrating their commitment to climate action. Virginia is leading the way on climate and we will not accept regression to the dirty days of the past.” 

Dominion’s new plant would operate up to 37% of the time, emitting about 4,500,000,000 lbs of CO2-equivalent per year. That’s the equivalent of adding over 470,000 cars to the road. Calculations show this would directly cause more than 6 million square meters of Arctic sea ice to melt each year. 

Communities within a three-mile radius of the proposed plant’s location are largely low income and people of color who have suffered from the legacy pollution connected to Dominion’s coal-fired Chesterfield Power Station during its more than 70 years of operation, yielding additional opposition from the county’s NAACP branch, Friends of Chesterfield, and other community groups active in the area.  

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Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. Founded in 2002, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.