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.”