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Chesterfield Town Hall Hosted by Sen. Hashmi Spotlights Overwhelming Community Opposition to Controversial New Gas Plant

Residents and activists objected to the proposes fossil fuel plant, which would be the largest of its type in Virginia, as dangerous, costly, and unneccessary

CHESTERFIELD, VA: Over 100 Chesterfield residents and regional activists showed up on Sunday at a town hall — led by Virginia State Senator Ghazala Hashmi (D-10)  — to speak out against Dominion Energy’s plan to build a massive methane gas plant near the James River. Participants expressed overwhelming opposition to the proposed plant as a threat to public health and the climate as well as being counter to Virginia law, which calls for a transition away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy. 

Senator Hashmi gave representatives from several environmental and community organizations the opportunity to address the gathering alongside Dominion representatives. Below are comments from those opponents: 

Aliya Farooq, Friends of Chesterfield Founding Board Member and Virginia Interfaith Power and Light Board Member, stated: “All people have the inalienable right to clean water and clean air. Common health impacts of gas-fired plants include asthma, brain damage, breathing difficulties, heat disorders, and premature death. The fact that we are even considering building a fossil-fuel plant in the vicinity of the same community which has been suffering for over [70] years, and will continue to suffer indefinitely because of the injustices of the past, is both mind-boggling and extremely disappointing.”

Rachel James, Associate Attorney at Southern Environmental Law Center, stated: “By proposing this gas plant, Dominion continues to reinforce environmental injustices. It is well past time for Dominion to change course. Virginia laws, Virginia residents, and in particular Chesterfield community members demand renewable energy alternatives to this polluting gas plant.” 

Jason Woodby, Friends of Chesterfield Founding Board Member, stated: “The increased cost of emissions from this plant would be an estimated $9-20 million per year in Chesterfield County. This cost would be due to statistically higher rates of infant mortality, hospital admissions, respiratory systems, and other health-related issues. This cost will be paid by residents through higher energy rates. Choosing one of the most expensive ways to produce energy does not serve Chesterfield County.”

Glen Besa, Friends of Chesterfield Founding Board Member, and Sierra Club Volunteer, stated: “Dominion has no shame. They’re trying to build a new gas plant — one of the largest in the state — after we blew past global warming records. Dominion is trying to protect their bottom line, at the risk of a livable future for all of us.”

Opposition is growing to Dominion Energy’s plans to build the so-called “Chesterfield Energy Reliability Center” that would build four new gas generators totaling 1,000 MW of nameplate capacity. 

This plant is emblematic of Dominion’s continued efforts to profit from new fossil fuel infrastructure despite a state-level mandate that the company achieve zero emissions by 2045. The plant is a key part of Dominion’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which itself has come under fire for failing to consider alternatives to expensive, unnecessary fossil fuel generating capacity. In fact, on December 8, the Virginia State Corporation Commission Hearing Examiner recommended the state agency reject Dominion Energy’s plan. Senior Hearing Examiner A. Ann Berkebile stated that she does “not recommend the Commission find the 2023 IRP to be reasonable and in the public interest.” 

Energy analysts with the consulting firm Gabel Associates recently released a report, commissioned by CCAN Action Fund, that showed Dominion Energy can meet its projected growth in demand for electricity while meeting goals set by the Virginia Clean Economy Act and maintaining grid reliability, without new gas-fired resources.

The timing of this town hall is pivotal as the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors deliberates a final decision on the project, which is expected to come in May or June. 

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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.