Planned Wise County, Va., coal-fired power plant will be focus of Monday protest
Saturday, Jun 23, 2007 - 01:45 AM
By Amy Hunter
A parcel of land in Southwest Virginia has become the focus of a statewide debate, and on Monday protesters will take their message to Richmond – No new power plant in Wise County.
Up to 200 people are expected to gather in front of Dominion Power’s Richmond headquarters on Monday to protest construction of a coal-fired plant in Wise County they say would pollute the community and do more harm than good.
But Dominion officials maintain the plant’s benefits outweigh its negatives.
"It will create hundreds of jobs," said Dan Genest, Dominion spokesman.
Protest organizer Hannah Morgan, and fellow protesters, want Dominion to take the estimated $1 billion allocated for the plant and invest it in conservation efforts and renewable energy.
Mike Ewall, founder of Energy Justice, a national organization that works with communities under threat of pollution, said the biggest problem is the burning of waste coal.
"It’s a mixture of coal and rock that you have to burn a lot more of to generate the same amount of energy of regular coal," he said. "And it creates a lot of ash that has to be dumped somewhere."
The ash, Ewall said, can seep into the ground with rain and contaminate ground water. Plus, burning waste-coal increases greenhouse pollution and emit PAH’s, a category of chemicals that cause cancer.
"Companies use it because its cheaper," he said.
Genest said the company is aware global warming is an important issue, but because coal-burning accounts for 50 percent of U.S. energy needs, coal-fired plants will be a nationwide necessity for decades.
"You can’t do it all through conservation and renewable energy," said Genest.
He said the Wise County plant will use clean coal technology that helps reduce pollution.
"It’s a new generation of power plant. It’s like comparing an Oldsmobile to a hybrid today."
Genest said Dominion is working with researchers at Virginia Tech to find cleaner ways to meet the state’s energy needs, while using the best clean-coal technology available today.
Despite contentious disagreement on both sides, they do agree on one thing – Power plants create jobs, and job creation is a boon for the economy.
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I must state for the record that 199 of the 200 protesters are misguided rich kids from up north who have no idea where their power comes from. "Shave the whales"...see I was young once and all mixed up... er I mean "save the whales". Its been a few years since my college days trying to save the world so I have to think about what allI was against. They just protest long enough to get their picture taken then they jump back in their BMW's and feel great about themselves. The understand how the press works to some extent but ignore the facts about energy use in America as well as their own use of 33 pounds of coal a day required to keep those printers running for their mis-guided flyer's.