Virginia Governor Signs Coal Ash Cleanup Bills

"The potential risks to public health and water quality posed by unlined coal ash ponds in the Commonwealth are far too great for us to continue with business as usual," said Gov. Ralph Northam. "This historic, bipartisan effort sets a standard for what we can achieve when we work together, across party lines, in the best interest of all Virginians."

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed a pair of bills to spur the cleanup of more than 27 million cubic yards of coal ash from unlined ponds in Virginia, following what the governor's office called "a historic bipartisan agreement that was supported by Democratic and Republican members of both the House and Senate." Senate Bill 1355, sponsored by Sen. Frank Wagner, and House Bill 2786, sponsored by Del. Riley Ingram, require the closure and removal of any coal combustion residuals units, defined in the bills to include coal ash ponds or landfills, within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The legislation will clean up four sites in Chesapeake City and the counties of Prince William, Chesterfield, and Fluvanna by moving coal ash to lined landfills on site or recycled in a safe manner.

"The potential risks to public health and water quality posed by unlined coal ash ponds in the Commonwealth are far too great for us to continue with business as usual," said Northam. "This historic, bipartisan effort sets a standard for what we can achieve when we work together, across party lines, in the best interest of all Virginians. I am proud to sign this legislation into law."

"Throughout last year, we worked hard in a bipartisan manner to develop legislation that you see today to once and for good resolve the issue of coal ash and its permanent disposal," Wagner said. "I'm glad to see that all this work has resulted in a permanent solution to Virginia's coal ash issues."

Ingram agreed, saying, "I was pleased to see that the General Assembly, the governor, House, Senate, and Dominion [Energy] were able to all come together and come up with a great solution for the coal ash ponds, and in my opinion for the betterment of everyone."

Virginia's secretary of Natural Resources, Matthew J. Strickler, also praised the bills, saying, "I am proud of what we have achieved by bringing together the many stakeholders facing serious threats from unlined coal ash ponds. Clean closure of these sites will reduce the likelihood of a massive spill that could devastate tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay, and remove the possibility of contaminated groundwater."

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