Lawmakers in Richmond have punted a permanent solution on coal ash until another year. Coal ash the byproduct of coal burning power plants. Across Virginia, the ash sits in ponds as lawmakers and Dominion Energy work out how best to get rid of it.
Senator Scott Surovell lugs out an 800 page binder of data, charts and environmental statistics. Coal ash, it turns out, is complicated.
“Trying to get 140 legislators to look at this stuff in a 60 day session with all these bills flying around, especially with the other big Dominion bill we had to deal with is just not, wasn’t realistic,” says Surovell.
Lawmakers have pushed back several bills dealing with the issue until next year. A single measure, sponsored by Surovell, has passed. It requires Dominion Energy get estimates on the cost of recycling coal ash.
“The permanent fix is still to come. We’d like to see them cleaned up sooner than later, of course, but it needs to be done right,” says Pat Calvert with the Virginia Conservation Network.
In the meantime, lawmakers aren’t allowing Dominion to wrap up with its preferred clean up method. That’s leaving the ash where it is, draining the water, then putting a cap on top.