Category Archives: 2017 Virginia General Assembly

Dominion Energy’s Virginia Coal Ash Storage Ponds Options Evaluated in Report Released Dec. 1, 2017; Report was Mandated by SB 1398 in 2017 Virginia General Assembly

On December 1, 2017, Dominion Energy released an 846-page report on options for the company to address its coal combustion by-products, also called coal ash, stored in ponds at four coal-fired power plants in Virginia.  The report was mandated by Senate Bill 1398 in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly (online at http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=171&typ=bil&val=sb1398), which stated that “every owner or operator of a coal combustion residuals (CCR) surface impoundment, as that term is defined at 40 C.F.R. § 257.53, that is located within the Chesapeake Bay watershed shall conduct an assessment of each such CCR surface impoundment (CCR unit) regarding the closure of any such unit.”

The report is available online at is available online at https://www.dominionenergy.com/coalash.

According to the report’s Executive Summary, SB 1398 called for the company to do the following:
*evaluate closure by removal with recycling or reuse (beneficial use) of the CCR material;
*evaluate closure by removal with placement of CCR material in a permitted landfill;
*evaluate closure-in-place addressing long-term safety, structural, and extreme weather event resiliency; and
*describe groundwater and surface water quality surrounding each ash pond and evaluate corrective measures if needed.

The report was done for Dominion by the international firm AECOM (headquartered in Los Angeles; online at http://www.aecom.com/).

Following are hyperlinked news media articles on the release of the report:
Report lays out potential Virginia coal ash options, Associated Press, as published by Charlottesville Daily Progress, 12/1/17.
Dominion’s long-awaited coal ash assessment is in, but what the utility will do with it remains unclear, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/1/17.
State-mandated report details new options for Dominion Energy’s toxic coal ash, Prince William Times, 12/2/17.
Dominion’s review of coal ash “alternatives” still favors on-site storage, Bay Journal, 12/6/17.

For more details on coal ash management in Virginia, please see this Water Central News Grouper post.

Virginia Water Central Newsletter/August 2017 Issue Available; Includes Water-bill Inventory from 2017 Va. General Assembly

The August  2017 issue (Issue 67) of Virginia Water Central Newsletter, from the Virginia Water Resources Research Center is available online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/water-central-news/.

The 38-page publication’s main feature is an inventory of water-related bills in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly.

The issue also includes the following sections:

Editor’s Comment – with information on following the General Assembly

Notices – items on a variety of information sources.

At the Water Center – items on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Water Conference, October 12-13, 2017, in Shepherdstown, W. Va., 2017; Student Competitive Grant Award Winners for 2017-18; and Walker Fellowship Award Winner for 2017-18.

For more information about the newsletter, contact the editor at araflo@vt.edu or (540) 231-5463.

Water in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly: Coal Ash Management Bills – Updated 4/27/17

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about 160 water-related bills in the 2017 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm.  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

SB 1398, sponsored by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36th District) of Mt. Vernon, passed the Senate on Feb. 7.  As passed by the Senate, the bill would prohibit the DEQ director from issuing a draft permit for the closure of a coal combustion residuals unit (CCR unit) located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed (that is, at facilities of Dominion Virginia Power) until the director has reviewed an assessment of closure options prepared by the owner or operator of the CCR unit.  Prior to receiving a permit, the permit-seeker would have to identify water pollution and address corrective measures to resolve it, evaluate the clean closure of the CCR unit by recycling the ash for use in cement or moving it to a landfill, and demonstrate the long-term safety of the CCR unit and its ability to keep ash out of wetlands and other sensitive areas.  A substitute version passed by the House on Feb. 17 removed the requirement that the information be provided and reviewed by the director before the director may issue a draft permit for closure of a CCR unit.  The Senate agreed to the House version on Feb. 21.  On March 22, Gov. Terry McAuliffe proposed an amendment that would place a moratorium on any Dominion coal-ash closures until 2018, when the information required by SB 1398 will have been provided.  In early April, Dominion announced that it would not oppose the delay in closure permitting called for in the governor’s amendment.  The amendment was approved by the General Assembly in its April 5 reconvened session.

SB 1399, also sponsored by Sen. Surovell, was stricken from the docket of the Senate  Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources (ACNR) Committee at the request of Sen. Surovell.  The bill would have directed the DEQ to require the closure of surface impoundments of coal combustion by-products, commonly called coal ash ponds, by July 1, 2021.  The bill would have applied to impoundments that managed such by-products from the generation of electricity by an electric utility or independent power producer prior to December 22, 2016, including those impoundments that, prior to December 22, 2016, have been closed by capping in place or have received DEQ approval for closure by capping in place.  The bill would also have required that the coal combustion by-products be removed for disposal in a permitted landfill meeting federal criteria and that the impoundment site be reclaimed in a manner consistent with federal mine reclamation standards for the closure to be deemed complete.  The bill would have allowed the electric utility to recover the costs of closure from customers.

SB1383, also sponsored by Sen. Surovell, was stricken from the docket of the Senate ACNR Committee at the request of Sen. Surovell.  The bill would have required electric utilities to recycle as much of their stored coal ash as is imported into the Commonwealth each year, on a pro rata basis.

Related News Media Items on this Legislation

GOP ushers through coal ash legislation, Chesterfield Observer, 4/12/17.

Delaying closure: Virginia’s controversial coal ash ponds, WTOP Radio-Washington, 4/15/17.

New review of coal ash at Dominion Power’s Chesapeake site may leave out most of the ash, Virginian-Pilot, 4/6/17.

Coal Ash Ponds: Power companies to face new barrier in closing Virginia sites, Inside Nova, 4/6/17.

In special session, Virginia lawmakers put the brakes on Dominion’s coal-ash plans, Prince William Times, 4/6/17.

Dominion to assess coal ash sites regardless of bill’s fate, Associated Press, as published by WJLA TV-Washington, 4/5/17.

Dominion won’t oppose pause in coal-ash permitting, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/4/17.

If amended bill passes, coal ash closure process at Possum Point could slow, Potomac Local, 3/27/17.

Virginia governor proposes moratorium on coal ash permits, Bay Journal, 3/22/17.

McAuliffe seeks coal ash pond alternatives with permit moratorium, Inside NOVA, 3/22/17.

McAuliffe moves to place yearlong moratorium on coal-ash pond closure permits, Prince William Times, 3/22/17.

Governor requests pause in coal-ash permitting, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/22/17.

Sen. Chase asks governor for help with coal ash, Chesterfield Observer, 3/1/17.

Coal ash bill goes to governor without important moratorium provision, Virginian-Pilot, 2/21/17.

Coal Ash Bill Results In General Assembly Compromise: Bill Requires More Information Before Slurry Disposal, The Flat Hat (College of William and Mary), 2/21/17.

Virginia environmentalists disappointed by “watered down” coal ash bill, WTKR TV-Norfolk, 2/22/17.

Environmentalists disappointed by House’s coal ash bill, WTVR TV-Richmond, 2/17/17.

Virginia House of Delegates committee defangs coal ash bill, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/15/17.

Coal ash bill clears House subcommittee, though not unscathed, Richmond Times-Dispatch, as published by Roanoke Times, 2/14/17.

Coal ash bill clears Senate, but faces challenges in the state House, Fauquier Times, 2/13/17.

Surovell bill to delay Dominion’s coal-ash plans moves to the state Senate, Prince William Times, 2/3/17.

Bill that would require more information on coal-ash closure plans clears Va. Senate committee, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/2/17.

Is Recycling a Practical Solution for Coal Ash?, Bacon’s Rebellion, 2/2/17.

Coal ash revaluation, recycling bill that could affect Chesapeake energy site passes Senate panel, Virginian-Pilot, 2/3/17.

On Virginia Water Radio for 3-13-17: Scenes from a Virginia General Assembly Subcommittee

Virginia Water Radio’s latest episode, for the week of March 13, 2017, is “Subcommittees Are Where Many Proposed Virginia Laws Start to Float or Sink.”   The 4 min./18 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2017/03/episode-359-3-13-17-subcommittees-are.html, examines the role of subcommittees in the Virginia General Assembly, with an sample discussion of a 2017 bill on disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a weekly broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is http://www.virginiawaterradio.org.  Have a listen or two!

Water in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly: Coal Employment and Production Tax Credit

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about 165 water-related bills in the 2017 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm.  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

HB 2198, Coal tax; extends coal employment and production incentive tax credit and limits aggregate amount of credits that may be allocated or claimed.  This bill, sponsored by Del. Terry Kilgore (R-1st District), of Gate City, passed the House on February 2 and passed the Senate on February 10, but it was vetoed by the governor on February 21.  The veto will be taken up in the reconvened session on April 5, 2017.  According to the Virginia Legislative Information System summary, the bill as it passed the House would “reinstate the Virginia coal employment and production incentive tax credit.  The credit, which expired on July 1, 2016, could be earned on and after January 1, 2017, but before January 1, 2022. The bill limits the aggregate amount of credits that may be allocated or claimed for the coal employment and production incentive tax credit in each fiscal year to $7.3 million.  An electricity generator must file an application with the Department of Taxation each year to determine the amount of credits that it may claim or allocate, including credits earned in prior taxable years.  If the total amount of credits earned in a taxable year exceeds $7.3 million, the Department of Taxation shall apportion the credits on a pro rata basis.  The bill also extends the sunset date of the coalfield employment enhancement tax credit through taxable years beginning before January 1, 2022.”   SB 1470, sponsored by Sen. A. Benton Chafin (R-38th District), of Lebanon, is identical to HB 2198.  That bill passed the Senate on February 3 and the House on February 15, but was vetoed by the governor on March 13.  The veto will be taken up in the reconvened session on April 5, 2017.

Related News Media Item
Governor vetoes coal tax credit bill for third year in row, Roanoke Times, 2/22/17.

Water in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly – Stormwater Management Bill (HB 1774)

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about 165 water-related bills in the 2017 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm.  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

HB 1774, Stormwater management; work group to examine ways to improve in rural Tidewater.  This bill, sponsored by Del. M. Keith Hodges (R-98th District), of Urbanna, passed the House on Feb. 6, passed the Senate on Feb. 21, and was approved by the Governor on March 13.  According to the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), the bill aimed to develop new Regional Stormwater Practies banks for localities that do not operate a municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) for stormwater runoff.  As passed, the bill has the following provisions (again, according to LIS):
*directs the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency (the Center) to convene a work group to consider alternative methods of stormwater management in rural Tidewater localities;
*provides that the group is to be facilitated by the Virginia Coastal Policy Center at William and Mary Law School and is to include representatives of institutions of higher education, state agencies, local governments, private industry, and other groups;
*provides that the work group is to review and consider the creation of rural development growth areas, the development of a volume credit program, the payment of fees to support regional best management practices, and the allowance of the use of stormwater in highway ditches to generate volume credits;
*requires the Center to report the results of the work group’s examination to the governor and the chairs of the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources by January 1, 2018, which is the date the work group provisions of the bill are set to expire; and
*delays from July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2018, the effective date of new stormwater laws enacted during the 2016 Session of the General Assembly.

Related News Media Items
Bills and Buzzwords: the Story of HB 1774, Bacon’s Rebellion, 2/23/17; The Story of HB 1774 – Rural Growth, Stormwater Credits, Bacon’s Rebellion, 3/1/17; The Saga of HB 1774 – Starting Over, Bacon’s Rebellion, 3/7/17; The Saga of HB 1774 – Recurrent Flooding and Flooded Roads, Bacon’s Rebellion, 3/17/17 [series of four articles examining the case of a bill that changes significantly during passage through the Virginia General Assembly].

Stormwater banks pitched to address pollution, flooding and development on Middle Peninsula, Daily Press, 2/12/17.

Water in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly: Nutrient Credits

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about 165 water-related bills in the 2017 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bill’s provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm.  The bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

HB 2311 – Nutrient Offset Fund; additional stipulations for the purchase and sale of credits.  This bill, sponsored by Del. M. Kirkland Cox (R-66th District), of Colonial Heights, passed the House and Senate and was approved by the governor.  The bill does the following, according to the bill’s text:

*Renames nutrient “offsets” as nutrient “credits…that achieve equivalent point or nonpoint source reductions in the same tributary beyond those reductions already required by or funded under federal or state law or the Watershed Implementation Plan prepared for the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load pursuant to § 2.2-218.”

*Continues to allow the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) director to enter into contracts to acquire such credits using the Nutrient Offset Subfund; removes the priority given to nutrient offsets produced from facilities that generate electricity from animal waste; and adds a new requirement that credits in the Nutrient Offset Subfund be listed in a registry maintained by the DEQ.

*Adds a new provision that the DEQ “shall establish a procedure to govern the distribution of moneys from the Subfund that shall include criteria that address (i) the annualized cost per pound of the reduction, (ii) the reliability of the underlying technology or practice, (iii) the relative durability and permanence of the credits generated, and (iv) other such factors that the Department deems appropriate to ensure that the practices will achieve the necessary reduction in nutrients for the term of credit.”

*Continues to require the DEQ director to make nutrient credits available for sale to owners or operators of new or expanded facilities pursuant to § 62.1-44.19:15, and to permitted facilities pursuant to § 62.1-44.19:18.  Adds a requirement that DEQ director “consider recommendations of the Secretary of Commerce and Trade consistent with the requirements of the State Water Control Law (§ 62.1-44.2 et seq.) in the sale of nutrient credits to new or expanding private facilities.”

*In Section E, adds “nonpoint” to the allowable source of nutrient credits: “For the purposes of this section, a ‘nutrient credit’ means a nutrient reduction certified by the Department of Environmental Quality as a load allocation, point or nonpoint source nitrogen credit, or point or nonpoint source phosphorus credit under the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Nutrient Credit Exchange Program.”

Related News Media Item
New plant on James River to require 1st pollution trade of its kind in VA, Bay Journal, 1/22/17.