Updated: Jun 24
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 06/24/2020
CONTACT: Jolene Mafnas, firstname.lastname@example.org, 703-731-4907
Two Gubernatorial Candidates, Congressman, and Major Justice Groups Join Opposition
RICHMOND, VA — Last week, the State Corporation Commission received the post hearing briefs from the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), submitted on behalf of Appalachian Voices and Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, Appalachian Mountain Voice Advocates, submitted on behalf of Sierra Club and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and Virginia Natural Gas, marking another key submission deadline in the contentious Header Improvement Project (HIP) application.
SELC highlights the speculative need surrounding HIP because the C4GT Power Plant—the primary power plant HIP is proposed to service— has as of yet failed to secure funding and in light of the recent passing of environmental legislation puts into question C4GT’s future ability to finance themselves. SELC also states the HIP proposal brings with it significant environmental injustices to low-income, majority-minority communities and with the recent passing of the Virginia Environmental Justice Act it is the State Corporation Commission (SCC)’s responsibility to comprehensively address these issues. However SELC writes “but the Company’s application is silent about the Project’s effects on minority and low-income communities and deprives the Commission of the ability to assess the Header Improvement Project’s compliance with these newly enacted laws.”
Although the HIP is proposed to service other customers like Dominion’s subsidiary company Virginia Power Services Energy Corporation, Appalachian Mountain Voice Advocates writes, “But the prospect that Dominion, for example, needs incremental capacity is belied by the Commission’s own records. Dominion has not identified a need for additional firm transportation capacity in fuel factor proceedings or in its recent integrated resource planning documents.”
On June 8th, two gubernatorial candidates, Delegate Jennifer Carroll-Foy and Senator Jennifer McClellan, submitted letters to the SCC opposing the project, highlighting these same concerns with environmental justice, lack of demonstrable need for the project, along with environmental hazards.
Senator McClellan, who formally announced her gubernatorial run last week, states in her letter “given the demographics of the community in which the HIP and related infrastructure will be placed, any decision surrounding the project will have a potentially significant and adverse impact on economically disadvantaged and minority communities who historically have been disproportionately impacted by these utility infrastructure projects.”
Delegate Carroll-Foy, the first to formally announce her bid for Governor, highlights in her letter “Not only will this project accelerate climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases, the HIP will impede on landowner rights, threaten nearby communities’ clean air and water, cut through 68 rivers and streams, and impact over 150 acres of wetlands at the cost of $20.75 million to VNG ratepayers.”
Both state representatives also comment that the SCC’s continuation of HIP proceedings amid the COVID-19 pandemic has severely limited citizens’ ability to have fair public participation.
US Congressman Donald McEachin also submitted a letter—dated May 12 but available to the SCC public docket on June 10th—echoing many of the same concerns with his letter advocating that, “Residents of the Commonwealth deserve to live in an environment that is healthy, clean, and safe, and they are entitled to have their voices recognized when considering projects that could have significant health, environmental, and economic impacts on their lives. I ask that you give the concerns of these residents your full and fair consideration.”
A coalition of grassroots, statewide, and national groups and organizations called the Stop the Abuse of Virginian Energy (SAVE) Coalition has formed to stop this project. Learn more here: www.stophip.org