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For Immediate Release: June 16, 2021

Contact: Phoebe Galt, Food & Water Watch, 207-400-1275, PGalt@FWWatch.Org


Revealed Documents Show Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality Was on the Cusp of Revoking Controversial C4GT Gas Plant’s Air Permit


A Food & Water Watch FOIA request found the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) drafted a letter revoking C4GT’s air permit


Richmond, VA — In documents revealed as a result of a Freedom of Information Act Request filed by Food & Water Watch, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is shown to have drafted, but never issued, a full invalidation notice for a key C4GT power plant permit. For months, members of the Stop the Abuse of Virginian Energy (SAVE) Coalition, including frontline group Concerned Citizens of Charles City County (C5), have been urging action to revoke the fossil fuel power plant’s permit, given the company’s repeated failure to provide progress reports and their lack of continuous construction at the site. After months of inaction, the DEQ issued a warning letter on May 26.


The documents demonstrate that DEQ has what it needs to invalidate C4GT’s air permit, but has chosen not to act yet. In early May, staffers drafted a revocation letter clearly stating the ways in which C4GT is in violation of Virginia code, thereby giving DEQ the power to invalidate the company’s critical air permit. The draft letter demonstrates the department contemplated a straightforward revocation. Instead, the DEQ issued a warning letter to the company who now has thirty days to respond.


The documents fail to disclose why a warning letter was the more appropriate option given the clearly demonstrated legal arguments to support a permit invalidation.


“When issuing the FOIA request, I did not expect to find a fully drafted revocation letter citing arguments our organization and allies have been detailing since January,” said Jolene Mafnas, Food & Water Watch Virginia Organizer. “It makes no sense as to why DEQ decided to go with a warning letter when they clearly had the legal right to revoke C4GT’s permit. Agencies like DEQ are charged with protecting Virginians and our environment, not catering to corporate interests. It’s time DEQ upheld that responsibility and invalidated the polluting project’s permit.”


“The FOIA documents are proof that the DEQ works with the applicants and not the affected community,” said Wanda Roberts, an impacted resident and member of Concerned Citizens of Charles City County. “DEQ's responsibility is to protect and enhance Virginia's environment and promote the health and well being of the citizens of Virginia. Their focus must first be on the needs of the citizens of Charles City County. It is time for DEQ to stop taking advantage of rural minority communities for the applicants' profit.”


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After months of scrutiny from national, regional, and local activists representing the SAVE Coalition, state agency takes action on delinquent fossil fuel project


Richmond, VA — Last week, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality issued a warning letter to C4GT LLC, threatening permit revocation. The letter comes after months of scrutiny from environmental organizations, activists and impacted residents, representing the Stop the Abuse of Virginian Energy (SAVE) coalition. Senator McClellan also stepped in, requesting that Attorney General Herring and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director David Paylor investigate C4GT’s claims of “continuous construction.” The response from DEQ comes as a direct result of the increasing pressure placed on the dangerous and dirty fossil fuel project.


In the warning letter, the DEQ outlined how C4GT was in noncompliance due to their failure of “continuous construction,” regarding permit no. 52588. The letter documents how the company has failed to submit monthly reports for February as well as April, which initiated a formal corrective action period that was resolved in early May with a status report confirming no construction has taken place since December 2020. In the letter, DEQ asks C4GT LLC to respond within 30 days “detailing action you have taken or will be taking to ensure compliance with state law and regulations,” which include fulfilling “continuous construction,” requirements and monthly reports. C4GT responded confirming no further action has been taken since December.


Activists laud the letter as a step in the right direction, and credit the move to the increased attention placed on the plant by Senator McClellan and groups representing the SAVE Coalition.


In response, Cynthia Robinson, an impacted resident and member of Concerned Citizens of Charles City County, expressed concerns about how C4GT's permits were being handled, stating:



“As a citizen of Charles City County - any citizen - I deserve transparency from elected people and people that work for the state. The way I see it, I pay your salary, you work for me, like an employer. I just want to know what’s going on here! It seems so undercover. When people don’t share information - especially when asked directly - it looks like they are lying to people. What am I supposed to think? If I was trying to open a business and acted like C4GT, I think I would not be able to get away with the things they are doing.

We have been told “this is the best thing to happen to the county” and “there’s nothing to worry about.” So, if that is true, why can’t they just tell the truth? When the Dollar General came to the county, everybody knew everything about it- that’s all we talked about. If you can give all the information about the Dollar General, why can’t you tell us what’s going on with this gas plant - which will have a bigger effect on all our lives? There are still people in Charles City County that don’t know anything about these gas plants.”

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Updated: Jun 24, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 06/24/2020

CONTACT: Jolene Mafnas, jmafnas@fwwatch.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.”

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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



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