The Sierra Club is running a campaign
to kick coal off college campuses. (Our friends over at Virginia Tech were recently featured in an article
in the NYT
.) My university, James Madison, does not have a coal plant on campus (we have a steam plant, but it doesn't produce much power); however, we do buy most of our power from coal.
From our east campus library, I can see the sunset over the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. I'm constantly reminded why it is so important to end mountain-top removal coal mining. Virginia has quite the fight ahead of it -- and currently, we're primarily concerned with one big, proposed coal plant.
The Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) is planning a $6 billion coal plant in Dendron (Surry County), Va. Surry County is a very small, impoverished community near Virginia Beach. The plant is officially named Cypress Creek Power Station, and has been in the planning stages since 2007. Opposition to the plant includes the Southern Environmental Law Center and now the Chesapeake Bay Foundation
, among others. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's president, Will Baker, said the coal plant would significantly add to the pollution of the bay and could violate the Clean Water Protection Act.
Students in Virginia are uniting against the plant. Despite environmental concerns, some residents are in favor of the plant being built due to the struggling economy and the promise of job creation. The Surry plant would be the largest coal-fired power plant in Virginia. Most of our coal comes from mountain-top removal, and has devastating effects on the environment and community. Most jobs are not provided for the community, but rather the coal companies bring in outside specialists to run the plant. The very few jobs this plant would bring to the community are highly outweighed by the environmental impact for not just Surry County, but the entire state of Virginia.