Apparently dirty air isn’t just for Northern Virginia. Under new EPA standards released today, several Virginia communities around Richmond and Hampton Roads will receive a time-honored label of “non-attainment” with the Clean Air Act. Fourteen cities and counties in Virginia are projected to be in non-attainment: Alexandria City, Arlington, Caroline, Charles City, Chesterfield, Fairfax, Hampton City, Hanover, Henrico, Loudoun, Madison, Prince William, Stafford, Suffolk City.
In a release today, Trip Pollard of the Southern Environmental Law Center elaborated.
“What we’re seeing is that unhealthy air is not just an urban problem anymore,” said Pollard. “Even small and mid-sized cities are going to have to tackle their air problems in order to protect the health of their citizens.”
“The fact that more cities than ever are likely to fail to meet even this standard should serve as a wake up call to all Virginians that dirty air is everyone’s problem,” said Trip Pollard.
This announcement comes at a time the state is considering permitting two new power plants, a coal-burning plant in Wise County and a natural gas plant in Buckingham county. This follows a court ruling earlier last week which would restrict mercury emission from power plants too.
Under the new standard, the metro Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia region is expected to remain in violation of the federal standard, otherwise known as being in “nonattainment.” However, the greater Richmond area and Virginia Beach as well as smaller western cities including Harrisonburg, Martinsville and Culpepper will also likely be added to the list. These areas will face deadlines to reach the new standard or risk federal sanctions including tighter smokestacks controls and the possible loss of federal highway money.