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Virginia Court Of Appeals Upholds Coal Plant Permit

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By Sabri Ben-Achour

The Virginia Court of Appeals has upheld an air emissions permit for a coal-burning power plant being built in southwestern Virginia.

A coalition of environmental groups has been fighting to block the Dominion Virginia Power plant for years, arguing that emissions would harm air and water quality and contribute to global warming.

The state of Virginia authorized a permit for the plant that put limits on some emissions, but didn't regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The environmental groups wanted the permission revoked for that reason, but the Virginia Court of Appeals upheld it.

Cale Jaffe argued the case for the Southern Environmental Law Center. He says he disagrees with the court's decision, but "it's noteworthy that through the course of our involvement and other's involvement, Dominion eventually agreed to voluntary carbon offset measures," he says. "That should decrease the net impact of global warming pollution from this coal plant by about 1.1 million tons per year."

Jaffe says the groups did successfully lobby to make some limits more strict: mercury limits for the plant are down 94 percent from what was originally proposed, and sulfur dioxide limits were lowered by 82 percent.

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