- Associated Press reports the Virginia House and Senate this week upheld amendments to Senate Bill 1398 requested by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), to require more detailed analysis of Dominion coal ash ponds before the state could issue permits to begin shutting them down.
- The new amendments require site assessments of coal ash ponds by December, and specifies they must focus on water pollution and closure options.
- The changes mean the Department of Environmental Quality will not issue permits for closing the sites until May 18, 2018, or a date determined by the General Assembly.
Virginia has hit pause on its efforts to address Dominion coal ash ponds, determining more information is needed before issuing permits to close down 11 locations.
McAuliffe in a statement on the amendments, said he he hopes the additional study will "increase the public’s confidence in the path that Virginia ultimately takes.” The changes will provide the public with more information on how the coal ash ponds are closed—either capped in place or recycled.
According to Associated Press, Dominion Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Farrell II agreed in a letter to the governor that more study would be "prudent" before moving ahead with the closures. Without them, state environmental officials could have issued closure permits without prior assessment.
Virginia has been working on issues surrounding Dominion's coal ash ponds for years, but the most recent direction to the utility comes almost a year after the Sierra Club revealed more than 3 million tons of coal ash was stored at the Chesapeake Energy Center site—significantly more than the previous estimate of 1 million tons.
Sierra Club has sued for Dominon to excavate all the ash from one of the Chesapeake Energy Center sites situated in the Elizabeth River, and move it to a lined landfill rather than capping in place.