As the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality continues to investigate emissions from the Mirant Power plant in Alexandria, Delegate Marian Van Landingham (D-45) is introducing legislation to further reduce harmful emissions.
"This is to amend the code of Virginia, specifically, Section 10.1.1322.5 and would require emission reductions in severe non-attainment areas," Van Landingham said. "It requires that any electricity-producing plant in a severe non-attainment area like Northern Virginia meet the new emission requirements by Jan. 1, 2009. This gives them five years to come into compliance with this new law."
The bill further states: (1) aggregate sulfur dioxide emissions shall be reduced by no less than 75 percent from the levels required under the Clean Air Act; (2) aggregate nitrogen oxide emissions shall be reduced by no less than 75 percent from the 1997 levels and that there be no emissions trading program. It further states no plant shall be permitted to operate after Jan. 1, 2009, without meeting these requirements unless that plant has entered into a consent decree and then it will be allowed to operate until 2014.
"Unfortunately, we didn't address small particle emissions because, apparently, there are no federal standards," Van Landingham said.
THE PLANT HAS been under scrutiny over the past several months because of increased usage. "Since Mirant has taken over the plant, [formerly PEPCO] it has been operating at a much higher level than it did previously," Van Landingham said. "That means that there is more coal dust and more harmful emissions coming from the plant. Also, because of [Reagan] National Airport, the smoke stack isn't high enough for the dust to disperse and it is settling over Arlington and Alexandria.
"The emission trading that Mirant is doing with the cleaner plants down river means that we're just getting all of these pollutants in an area that is already considered to be a non-attainment area."
Non-attainment areas are those that do not meet the Clean Air Act standards. To come into compliance, plants that do not meet the Clean Air Act standards are permitted to trade with cleaner plants that exceed the Clean Air Act requirements.
Richard Baier oversees the city's Department of Environmental Quality. He said, "Anything that gives us cleaner air is a good thing." Van Landingham will present her legislation at the upcoming session of the Virginia General Assembly.