Learn more about the threat drilling for methane gas poses to fresh water.
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|Type||Methane gas drilling, oil and coal|
|Number of locations||Clarksburg, WV|
Dominion is a giant in energy production. The Richmond, Virginia-based company focuses on electricity, coal and gas, and most recently, nuclear. It is involved in the controversial practice of fracking for methane gas in the Northeastern U.S. in the Marcellus Shale region. Dominion is also one of the biggest producers of coal in the U.S., with the majority of mines located in West Virginia. (More information about its coal production can be found below at the Dominion Coal Production section on this page.) Though lauded as an environmentally-friendly alternative to coal, fracking for gas has been linked to depleting drinking water resources of local communities and polluting the wells of the people living around drill sites. According to a 2010 article in Vanity Fair, "as use of the technique (fracking) has spread, it has been followed by incidents of water contamination and environmental degradation, and even devastating health problems."  And according to data released to the EPA, Halliburton, a major supplier of fracking fluid, admitted using 807,000 gallons of diesel-based chemicals in its fluids, in violation of an agreement drillers had with the EPA.
- 1 Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
- 2 Executive Summary
- 3 Partisan Political Activity
- 4 Front Groups
- 5 Claimed Violations of Safety Rules or Other Laws
- 6 Revenue and Profits
- 7 Executives and Annual Compensation
- 8 Senior Executives
- 9 Dominion Coal Production
- 9.1 Coal lobbying
- 9.2 Coal Waste
- 9.3 Environmental Record
- 9.4 Protests against Dominion
- 9.4.1 June 26, 2007: March & Street Theater at Dominion Headquarters
- 9.4.2 April 15, 2008: Blue Ridge Earth First! Blockades Dominion Headquarters
- 9.4.3 June 30, 2008: Activists Blockade Dominion Headquarters
- 9.4.4 September 15, 2008: Blockade at Power Plant Site & Dominion CEO Presentation Replaced
- 9.4.5 February 7, 2009: Billionaires for Coal visit Dominion headquarters: Richmond, VA
- 9.4.6 March 1, 2009: Activists rally against coal & Dominion in Massachusetts
- 9.5 Existing coal-fired power plants
- 9.5.1 Proposed coal unit closures and conversions
- 9.5.2 Biomass conversions
- 9.5.3 Dominion and Environmental Justice
- 9.6 Coal projects sponsored by Dominion
- 10 Contact Information
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
Dominion and its subsidiaries - Dominion North Carolina Power, Dominion Virginia Power, Dominion East Ohio, Dominion Hope, Dominion Peoples, Dominion Cove Point LNG, Dominion Clearinghouse, Dominion Exploration & Production, Dominion Gathering-Producer Services, Dominion Generation, Dominion Retail, Dominion Technical Solutions and Dominion Transmission - account for the majority of power east of the Mississippi. Dominion Exploration and Production, Dominion Peoples and Dominion Transmission are the subsidiaries that focus on fracking. It also owns the nation’s largest methane gas storage system.  In 2010, Dominion sold the majority of its Marcellus land leases and wells to CONSOL/CNX and PNG. It has been reporting annual revenues of between $14.8 billion and $16 billion a year over the past five years and its CEO is one of the wealthiest executives in the U.S., with a net worth of over $2 billion. Dominion has also been accused of polluting private drinking water by contaminating it with methane gas. Dominion and its executives have also been very active in making partisan political donations, predominantly in favor of Republicans. This company, headquartered in Virginia, has invested significant funds in elections in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia, all states with large shale deposits, and its PAC was a major spender in the election of the new governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett.
Sale of Dominion Peoples
On February 1, 2010, Dominion closed on an agreement to sell its Dominion Peoples, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based methane gas distribution subsidiary, to PNG Companies, LLC for $780 million." Dominion expects to bring in $542 million after taxes and plans to use the money to reduce the company’s debt." Dominion chairman, president, and CEO Thomas F. Farrell II stated, “We are not leaving Pennsylvania by any means. We are expanding our large natural gas transportation and storage system in the state to handle the influx of gas from the Marcellus Shale and other new sources.”
Sale of Exploration & Production to CONSOL Energy
On March 15, 2010, CONSOL announced the purchase of Dominion’s Exploration & Production business for $3.475 billion. The sale included 193 employees working for Dominion. The transaction includes 1.46 million acres for oil and gas drilling with over 9,000 already-producing wells. This transaction includes 491,000 acres of land in the Marcellus shale formation of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and almost triples the amount of land rights CONSOL owns in the Marcellus area. According to CONSOL’s press release, this purchase will make the company the largest producer of natural gas in the Appalachian basin and give CONSOL “a leading position” in the Marcellus area. Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Stifel, Nicolaus & Company were financial advisors for CONSOL, while Barclays Capital Inc. advised Dominion. Legal counsel for CONSOL came from Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Field LLP. Baker Botts LLP served as Dominion’s legal adviser.
Partisan Political Activity
Although Dominion has donated to campaigns on both sides of the aisle since it began drilling and transporting liquified methane gas in the Marcellus Shale, the majority of its political donations has gone to pro-fracking Republicans. 2010 was the biggest year in gas and oil political contributions by corporations hoping to encourage lawmakers to continue with the lax restrictions surrounding methane gas drilling. Nowhere is this seen more than in Pennsylvania, where the majority of the Macellus Shale area lies. According to MarcellusMoney.org, a project of Common Cause PA and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, $339,694.00 was donated by executives and Dominion's PAC in the Marcellus region.
Dominion Resources has been involved in seeking legislation to deregulate retail electric service in Virginia. In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly adopted legislation to "reregulate" but granted various rate concessions in connection with this new legislation, including the indexing of rates to measurers of inflation, thereby reducing the need to seek the Virginia State Corporation Commission's approval of rate increases. Dominion is also one of the largest energy company contributors to both Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress. These contributions total $407,999 to the 110th US Congress (as of the third quarter), the largest of which has been to Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) for $47,150. Rep. Cantor, for his part, has consistently voted with the coal industry on energy, war and climate bills.
Corporate Political Action Committee
Between 2009 - 2010, Dominion's PAC gave $107,770 to candidates and PAC front groups who support the lax laws surrounding fracking in the Marcellus Shale region. $30,000 of that went to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee and $30,000 went to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Another $5,000 went to a PAC called GAS.
Open Secrets shows that in 2010, Dominion's PAC contributed $1.1 million to mainly Virginia, Pennsylvania and Texas candidates running for Congress and Senate. The 2008 election year saw just under $1 million spent on candidates and PACs.
The biggest recipients of Dominion's PAC were: Senator Don White (R-Pa and Environmental Resources and Energy Committee member), Senator Joseph Scarnati (R-Pa), Governor Tom Corbett (R-Pa), Congressman Tim Murphy (R-Pa and member of the Subcommittee on Environment and Economy), Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Senator Dominic Pileggi (R-Pa and Majority Floor Leader).
The Dominion Political Action Committee has also been very active in donating to Virginia candidates. In 2007, the Dominion PAC donated $775,000, which was split evenly between Republican and Democratic candidates. In 2008 it contributed $675,000 to candidates, with 47% to Democratic Party candidates and 50% to Republican Party candidates.
Political Donations by Company Execs
Board members and senior management have donated large amounts of money to Dominion's political action committee, also called "Dominion Leadership Fund" and "Dominion Leadership Trust."
Here is a list of company executives and what they have donated:
- CEO and Chairman Thomas Farrell: $541,186 since 1995.
- CEO of Dominion Generation David A. Christian: $69,900
- Executive Vice President of Dominion Resources, Inc. and CEO of Dominion Virginia Power Paul D. Koonce: $68,770
- Executive Vice President and CFO Mark McGettrick: $50,482
- CEO of Dominion Energy Gary L. Sypolt: $32,500
- Vice President of Northeast Gas Basins Benjamin A. Hardesty: $15,267
- Senior Vice President of Dominion Transmission Paul Ruppert:$12,862
- Senior Vice President and General Manager of Dominion East Ohio Anne E. Bomar: $8,750
Searches were done on Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia State Campaign Finance sites.
Between 2007 and 2009, $831,699 in lobbying cash was given to politicians by Dominion, according to Common Cause's "Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets" report released in May 2010.
Open Secrets shows a more comprehensive list and totals lobbying contributions at $1.7 million for 2010. The bulk of the money went to Dominion's PAC and $45,000 went to McGuireWoods LLP. 2009 saw an even higher lobbying price tag: $2.1 million.
Dominion is a supporter of several special interest groups that push for expanded drilling rights and limited or no regulation of fracking.
The company is a member of: West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, Independent Oil & Gas Association of West Virginia, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Foundation, Southern Gas Association, American Gas Association, Virginia Coal and Energy Commission, Virginia Coal and Economic Development Authority, and the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
Claimed Violations of Safety Rules or Other Laws
On April 1, 2013, Dominion agreed to pay a $3.4 million civil penalty and spend $9.75 million on environmental mitigation projects to resolve Clean Air Act violations at coal-fired power plants in three states. The affected power plants are the Kincaid Generating Station in Kincaid, Illinois, the State Line Plant in State Line, Indiana, and the Brayton Point Station in Somerset, Massachusetts. Under the settlement, Dominion must install or upgrade pollution control technology on two plants, and permanently retire the State Line plant. The EPA said the settlement will result in reductions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter by more than 70,000 tons per year.
Health and Safety Violations Alleged
2008: In Daisytown, Pennsylvania, "Dominion Exploration and Production drilled two shallow wells on Terry Greenwood's cattle farm in late 2007 and early 2008 on a lease tied to the property since 1921. After the company hydraulically fractured the wells, the water in Greenwood's kitchen turned brown and salty and showed elevated levels of manganese. Dominion installed a filtration system in a shed, but the well did not produce enough water to operate the system, said Dan Donovan, a Dominion spokesman. DEP found that Dominion's activities impacted the family's water and in March 2008, it ordered the company to replace the Greenwoods' supplies. The year of the drilling, the family lost ten of the 18 calves that were born in a nine-month stretch; four were born with pure white eyes, another with a cleft pallet. Some were stillborn, some stood for a day or two before collapsing. Others bled from the nose."
"Greenwood suspects contamination in the pond where the calves' mothers watered, which collected runoff from the uphill gas site and turned brown during the drilling. DEP told the couple the rash of deaths was "the luck of the farmer," Greenwood's wife, Kathryn, said. The agency attributed the deaths to E. coli bacteria in the pond from fecal matter, which can cause ocular problems in fetal cows."
2006: Dominion's Cove Point LNG Terminal is located near Lusby, Maryland, and it receives imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) and also stores gas. In 2006, FERC authorized a further expansion of Cove Point's import capacity on an unregulated basis, with Statoil holding the expanded capacity.
Because the LNG at Cove Point contains a higher heat content than domestic natural gas, a local gas utility which receives LNG from Cove Point - the Washington Gas Light Co. - complained that its customers were adversely affected by this "hot" gas. As a result, the parties agreed to limit the heat content of the output of the terminal to 1075 Btu per million ft³ (1.134 MJ/m³) by injecting nitrogen into the gas stream. Subsequently, Washington Gas Light has experienced a 16-fold increase in gas leaks on residential service connections in Prince Georges County, which is served directly by pipeline from the plant. These leaks come from mechanical couplings which contain rubber gaskets. Washington Gas Light claims that because the Cove Point gas has less hexane and other heavy hydrocarbons than does domestic natural gas, the Cove Point gas causes the gaskets to dry out and leak. Cove Point disputes these claims and argues that its current expansion will not cause additional leaks in the District of Columbia and Virginia suburbs, as the area served by unblended LNG expands.
2010: "After negotiating for a decade, Dominion Transmission is suing nine property owners who refuse to sell oil and gas rights the company says it needs to protect natural gas stored in a large underground reservoir in West Virginia. The defendants are in five states - West Virginia, Ohio, Texas, Louisiana and Alabama - and have minority interests in the oil and gas under a combined 136 acres near Buck Run in Lewis County. Since 1956, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has allowed natural gas to be stor ed in the Gantz sandstone formation in Lewis County. Various producers pump gas into the Fink Storage Reservoir, where it's kept until demand picks up - typically in the winter months. Dominion maintains the reservoir but does not own the gas. U.S. District Judge John P. Bailey has scheduled jury selection for next April 12, 2011 in Elkins, West Virginia."
Revenue and Profits
Total Reveues: $15.2 billion
Gross Profit: $5.4 billion
Total Revenues: $15.2 billion
Gross Profit: $5.9 billion
Total Revenues: $16.3 billion
Gross Profit: $5.4 billion
Total Revenues: $14.82 billion
Gross Profit: $4.6 billion
Executives and Annual Compensation
- CEO and Chairman Thomas F. Farrell II: $4.8 million
- Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Dominion Resources, Inc. Mark F. McGettrick: $3.2
- Chief Executive Officer of Dominion Generation, President of Virginia Power and Chief Operating Officer of Virginia Power, Dominion Resources, Inc. David A. Christian: $1.8 million
- Chief Executive Officer of Dominion Virginia Power, Dominion Resources, Inc. Paul D. Koonce: $2.6 million
- Benjamin A. Hardesty: Vice President of Northeast Gas Basins - He joined Dominion in 1995, first as president of Dominion Appalachian Development Inc. and, from 2007, as vice president and general manager-Northeast Gas Basins. Prior to joining Dominion, he was president of Stonewall Gas Co. from 1982 to 1995. He is a director and past president of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association and director and past president of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of West Virginia. Hardesty is a trustee and past chairman of the board of trustees for The Nature Conservancy of West Virginia. He also serves on the boards of directors of the West Virginia Roundtable, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and Huntington Banks of West Virginia.
- Paul Ruppert: Senior Vice President of Dominion Transmission - Ruppert has been at Dominion since 1987. He started as a field worker in Weston, W.Va., and became an engineer in Production in Clarksburg, West Virginia. He became director of Engineering Services in 2000 and vice president of Pipeline Engineering & Plant Operations for Dominion Transmission in 2003. He was named to his current position in June 2009. Ruppert is also a board member of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Foundation.
- Thomas F. Farrell, II: CEO, Chariman and Director - Farrell has been a director of Dominion since 2005. He has been chairman, president and CEO of Dominion since 2007. "Farrell served as president and CEO of Dominion from January 2006 to April 2007, president and chief operating officer from January 2004 to January 2006, and prior to that, executive vice president. He is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Virginia Electric and Power Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dominion, and was chairman, president and CEO of CNG, a former wholly-owned fracking subsidiary of Dominion. Farrell is also a director of Altria Group, Inc."
- Mark F. McGettrick: Executive Vice President and CFO - His areas of responsibility include treasury, accounting, tax, investor relations, risk management, business planning and financial analysis. McGettrick joined Dominion in 1980 and has held a variety of management positions in Distribution Design, Accounting, Financial Planning, Customer Service and Generation. He previously served as president of Dominion Resources Services, Inc. and was CEO of the company’s Dominion Generation operating segment before assuming his current post in June 2009.
- David A. Christian: CEO of Dominion Generation - "Christian joined Virginia Power in 1976 and has held a variety of management positions with Dominion. Before assuming his current position in June 2009, Christian was president and chief nuclear officer of the company’s Dominion Nuclear business unit from October 2007 to May 2009. Christian is chairman of the board of directors of Nuclear Electric Insurance, Ltd., and also serves on the NEIL executive and governance committees. He is a member of the board of directors of the Nuclear Energy Institute and is a board member of the Foundation for Nuclear Studies and the Dominion Foundation.
- Paul D. Koonce: Executive Vice President of Dominion Resources, Inc. and CEO of Dominion Virginia Power - Koonce oversees Dominion’s regulated electric transmission in Virginia and North Carolina. He was CEO of the company’s Dominion Energy operating segment before assuming his current position in June 2009. He also serves on the boards of the Southeastern Electric Exchange, The Yorktown/Jamestown Foundation Board of Trustees and Jobs for Virginia Graduates and the Regional Leadership Council for Smart Beginnings. He has served as past Chair of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and the Southern Gas Association.
- Gary L. Sypolt: CEO of Dominion Energy - Sypolt's responsibilities include "oversight of Dominion’s regulated gas transmission pipeline and storage operations, regulated liquefied natural gas operations, Ohio and West Virginia regulated methane gas distribution operations and producer services operations. He joined the company in 1975 and has held numerous management positions at Dominion. Sypolt was president–Dominion Transmission before assuming his current post in June 2009. Sypolt serves on the boards of the American Gas Association, Interstate Natural Gas Association, Interstate Natural Gas Association Foundation and Southern Gas Association.
- James K. ‘Jim’ Martin: Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs of Dominion Resources Services, Inc. - Martin's responsibilities include "oversight of state and federal regulatory strategy, filings, and proceedings, as well as Dominion’s NERC Compliance Oversight. He joined Dominion in June 2000 and was Senior Vice President of Business Development & Generation Construction for the company’s Dominion Generation operating segment before assuming his current position in April 2009. Martin came to Dominion from Peabody Coal Co. in St. Louis, where he was Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Martin serves on the World Affairs Council of Greater Richmond, the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission and the Virginia Coal and Economic Development Authority.
- Anne E. Bomar: Senior Vice President and General Manager of Dominion East Ohio - Bomar "oversees all aspects of Dominion East Ohio’s Methane gas distribution company. Bomar joined Consolidated Natural Gas (CNG) in 1985, and held various positions in Corporate Planning, Rates and Gas Procurement prior to joining the company’s legal department. As an attorney with CNG, Bomar spent nine years in Washington, D.C. practicing before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission during the unbundling of interstate pipeline services. She served as Director of Rates & Certificates at CNG Transmission from May 1999 until CNG’s merger with Dominion Resources in 2000, when she was named Managing Counsel of Gas Transportation & Storage in the Dominion legal department. She assumed her current position in December 2009.
Dominion Coal Production
Dominion spent $1,840,000 on in house lobbying efforts in 2008 and an additional $470,000 in 2009. The registered lobbyists were Bruce McKay, Kelly Chapman, Carolyn Perry and Ann Loomis in 2008 with Bruce Byrd replacing Bruce McKay in 2009. Dominion also spent $120,000 on Ryan, Phillips, Utrecht & MacKinnon in 2008. The registered lobbyists were Thomas Ryan, Matthew Berzok, Jeff MacKinnon, Joe Vasapoli,George O'Connor,Bill Phillips, Doug Nappi and Rodney Hoppe. The lobbying duties were taken over in 2009 by Ryan, MacKinnon, Vasapoli & Berzok with another $30,000 from Dominion. The registered lobbyists were Thomas Ryan, Jeff MacKinnon, Joe Vasapoli, Matthew Berzok and Nick Kolovos.
Dominion is a member of the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA), an umbrella lobbying group for all coal ash interests that includes major coal burners Duke Energy, Southern Company and American Electric Power as well as dozens of other companies. The group argues that the so-called "beneficial-use industry" would be eliminated if a "hazardous" designation was given for coal ash waste.
VA OKs golf course made with coal ash from Dominion waste site
In 2008, worries and complaints about water contamination from Chesapeake's Battlefield Golf Club at Centerville surfaced. Officials at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) allowed developers to build the golf course with coal ash. Upon hearing of the complaints, a former employee said the DEQ attempted to limit the paper trail related to the project so the agency couldn't be blamed. The employee - Allen Brockman, a DEQ groundwater expert from 2001 to 2009 - said he saved e-mails that support his contentions. Brockman said the presence of any groundwater contamination on the golf course, which has been established, is enough for DEQ to declare the property an open dump site and to order all the ash removed, but that hasn't happened.
The golf course involved the transfer of 1.5 million tons of ash from an overloaded coal waste landfill, the Chesapeake Energy Center Bottom Ash / Sedimentation Pond at Dominion Virginia Power's Chesapeake Energy Center to a marshy, 217-acre site near scores of residential drinking-water wells. Brockman said DEQ allowed the golf course to be built against the backdrop of a chronic arsenic leaching problem at Dominion's coal-ash landfill, treated only with a binding agent to make the course. A "corrective action plan" to remediate the leaching arsenic at the landfill, along the Elizabeth River, had been in development for years. "So the idea of taking this same coal ash, from a landfill site, and placing it in the middle of a community would have been not only unacceptable, but frankly unconscionable," Brockman stated in his affidavit. Even with the use of a binding agent, which Brockman said was ineffective, no groundwater expert would have let the project move forward under any circumstances. Yet he said the early meetings between Dominion and DEQ did not include groundwater experts.
Virginia residents file $1 billion suit against Dominion over fly ash site
In March 2009, attorneys representing almost 400 residents who live near Battlefield Golf Club in Virginia filed a lawsuit in Chesapeake Circuit Court, seeking over $1 billion in damages. The suit claims that Dominion Virginia Power sent fly ash to the site, ignoring a consultant's determination that the ash would leach harmful elements into the local drinking water supply. The lawsuit names as defendants Dominion, course developer CPM Virginia LLC, and VFL Technology Corp., Dominion's coal-ash management consultant. The suit accuses the companies of committing conspiracy and fraud, battery, negligence, infliction of emotional distress, and the creation of a nuisance. The resident's attorneys are demanding the removal of all fly ash from the site; the cleaning of the aquifer and installation of public water and sewer service; compensation for personal injury and decreased property values; and the creation of a fund for treatment costs and health monitoring.
Study finds dangerous level of hexavalent chromium at Dominion coal waste sites
The study "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash," released by EarthJustice and the Sierra Club in early February 2011, reported elevated levels of hexavalent chromium, a highly potent cancer-causing chemical, at several coal ash sites in Virginia. In all, the study cited 29 sites in 17 states where hexavalent chromium contamination was found. The information was gathered from existing EPA data on coal ash as well as from studies by EarthJustice, the Environmental Integrity Project, and the Sierra Club. It included locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin.
According to the report, hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) was found at elevated levels at the following sites:
- Dominion's Yorktown Power Station unlined coal ash pond at 100 ppb (parts per billion) - 5,000 times the proposed California drinking water goals and above the federal drinking water standard.
- Chesapeake, Virginia's Battlefield Golf Course unlined coal waste fill above 100 ppb (parts per billion) - 5,000 times the proposed California drinking water goals and above the federal drinking water standard. The golf course involved the transfer of 1.5 million tons of ash from an overloaded coal waste landfill, the Chesapeake Energy Center Bottom Ash / Sedimentation Pond at Dominion Virginia Power's Chesapeake Energy Center.
A press release about the report read:
- Hexavalent chromium first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now new information indicates that the chemical has readily leaked from coal ash sites across the U.S. This is likely the tip of the iceberg because most coal ash dump sites are not adequately monitored.
According to the report, the electric power industry is the leading source of chromium and chromium compounds released into the environment, representing 24 percent of releases by all industries in 2009.
Dominion was 19th on the Political Economy Research Institute's 2002 Toxic 100. The company was responsible for 15.15 million pounds of toxic air emissions in that year.
In December of 2007, a settlement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Dominion Energy of Brayton Point called for the company's power generating plant to install new closed cycle cooling towers that provided significant protection to aquatic organisms in Mount Hope Bay, which flows into Narragansett Bay. The 2007 settlement resolved an ongoing dispute that began in 2003. The EPA issued a final discharge permit called a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) for the Brayton Point Power Station requiring significant reductions in thermal discharges to, and water intake from, Mount Hope Bay.
2010 report: State Line plant costs public between $500 and 700 million since 2002
According to a 2010 report by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), "Dominion Resources’ 'Unpaid Health Bills': The Hidden Public Costs of Soot and Smog From the State Line Coal Plant on the Chicago-Northwest Indiana Border and on the Shore of Lake Michigan Total: $540 - $720 Million Since 2002", pollution from Dominion's State Line Plant on the Illinois-Indiana border and along the Lake Michigan shores has caused up to $720 million in health and related damages in the last 8 years. The report uses data from the National Research Council finding that particulate matter (soot) from the State Line coal plant creates about $77 million in health and related damages annually which are imposed on the public. Overall, this coal plant has created an estimated $540 million to $720 million in public health damages and costs since 2002.
The State Line coal plant is located on the Illinois/Indiana border, just 13 miles from downtown Chicago and along the Lake Michigan shoreline. About 78,000 people live within three miles of the plant. The plant continues to operate with much equipment built between 1955 and 1962, as Dominion Resources, the plant owner, has not installed modern pollution controls such as scrubbers. ELPC’s report examines recent scientific research on the health effects of soot and smog pollution from coal plants. Numerous authoritative scientific panels have found that particulate matter pollution from coal plants harms public health, causing various health detriments including premature death, heart attacks, and cardiovascular and respiratory disease, the personal and economic hardships of which are borne by the public.
The report adds new information to the debate on how coal plants in Illinois and Indiana should be operated and regulated. U.S. EPA initiated an enforcement action against the State Line coal plant in 2009, citing 4,770 minutes of opacity (“soot and smoke”) violations between 2004 and 2008. In September 2010, ELPC and other health and environmental groups filed a notice of intent to sue Dominion Resources for repeatedly violating the amount of soot and smoke the plant is allowed to emit under the Clean Air Act.
Virginia Electric and Power Company (VEPCO) Clean Air Act Settlement
On April 21, 2003 the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. EPA announced that Virginia Electric Power Company (VEPCO), now known as Dominion, agreed to a $1.2 billion settlement for charges that the company had violated New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act. At the time it was the largest settlement with any utility company for alleged Clean Air Act violations. By 2013 the company is expected to install equipment to control pollution that causes smog, acid rain and soot by eliminating 237,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) from their plants' discharge in Virginia and West Virginia.
“Today’s settlement reflects the combined efforts of all parties to reach one common goal – cleaner air,” said Tom Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “These massive reductions in pollution will benefit not only the citizens of Virginia and West Virginia, but also the states in the Northeast to which windblown emissions of these pollutants are transported.”
VEPCO also agreed to pay a $5.3 million a civil penalty and spend at least $13.9 million more for environmental projects in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia, all of which participated in the case. Dominion will be installing new pollution control equipment and upgrading existing controls on several units in its system.
Protests against Dominion
June 26, 2007: March & Street Theater at Dominion Headquarters
On June 26, 2007, more than 35 people with the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards and Mountain Justice Summer marched in Richmond, VA, calling for Dominion to abandon its plans for a Wise County Plant in southwest Virginia. The march began at Massey Energy’s headquarters, where participants acted out a “baby shower” for newly-mined coal. With “baby coal” placed in a coffin, the march moved to Dominion Resources’ headquarters and a mock funeral was held for the coal, drawing a line between strip mining and coal-fired power plants. 
April 15, 2008: Blue Ridge Earth First! Blockades Dominion Headquarters
On April 15, 2008, protesters gathered in Richmond, VA as three people with Blue Ridge Earth First! blockaded the road in front of Dominion’s headquarters. The three blockading the road received summons for blocking traffic, but no arrests were made. 
June 30, 2008: Activists Blockade Dominion Headquarters
On June 30, 2008, 20 activists with Blue Ridge Earth First! and Mountain Justice Summer blockaded the entrance to Dominion Resources' corporate headquarters to protest the company's plan for the Wise County Plant in southwest Virginia. Four protesters formed a human chain with their hands encased in containers of hardened cement and a fifth dangled by a climber's harness from the Lee Bridge footbridge. After several hours police made their way through the miles of backed up traffic to cut the activists out of the lockboxes and barrels. The climber came down on his own. Police also detained eight others standing on the sidewalks supporting the lockdown team. Thirteen in total were arrested..
September 15, 2008: Blockade at Power Plant Site & Dominion CEO Presentation Replaced
On September 15, 2008, approximately 50 protested at the construction site of the Wise County Plant. A blockade of the construction site was created when participants locked down to steel barrel drums and to the gates of the site. Two of the barrel drums had operational solar panels affixed to the top that illuminated a banner reading "Renewable Jobs to Renew Appalachia." Eleven people were arrested.  Later that day in San Francisco, activists with the Rainforest Action Network infiltrated Dominion CEO Thomas F. Farrell’s presentation at Bank of America’s Annual Investment Conference. Farrell’s PowerPoint presentation was replaced with a slideshow of the Wise County Plant protest. 
February 7, 2009: Billionaires for Coal visit Dominion headquarters: Richmond, VA
About two dozen people identifying themselves "Billionaires for Coal" gathered outside the headquarters of Dominion to lampoon the coal industry. The activists wore formal dress and sipped from wine glasses, while shouting pro-coal, anti-environment slogans including "Up with sea levels, up with profits." A bluegrass band also performed, calling themselves "The We Love Money String Band". Although the group's signs and chants stayed on message with the billionaire façade, the activists distributed leaflets revealing that the demonstration was organized by Blue Ridge Earth First.
March 1, 2009: Activists rally against coal & Dominion in Massachusetts
In solidarity with the Capital Climate Action on March 2, protests were held in Massachusetts at the Dominion's Salem Harbor and Brayton Point plants, NRG's Somerset plant, and Northeast Utilities' Mount Tom plant. In Salem, about forty people rallied and speakers, such as Aviva Chomsky, were featured; the event was organized by HealthLink. In Somerset, seventy-five people rallied in a park within sight of both of the town's coal-fired power plants.
Existing coal-fired power plants
|Plant Name||State||County||Year(s) Built||Capacity||2007 CO2 Emissions||2006 SO2 Emissions|
|Mt. Storm||WV||Grant||1965, 1966, 1973||1662 MW||12,700,000 tons||3,139 tons|
|Chesterfield||VA||Chesterfield||1952, 1960, 1964, 1969||1353 MW||7,489,000 tons||64,863 tons|
|Kincaid||IL||Christian||1967, 1968||1319 MW||8,245,000 tons||13,692 tons|
|Brayton Point||MA||Bristol||1958, 1963, 1964||1125 MW||6,548,000 tons||25,776 tons|
|Clover||VA||Halifax||1995, 1996||848 MW||7,360,000 tons||1,854 tons|
|Chesapeake||VA||Chesapeake||1953, 1954, 1959, 1962||650 MW||4,263,000 tons||30,892 tons|
|Yorktown||VA||York||1957, 1959||375 MW||4,972,000 tons||21,685 tons|
|Salem Harbor||MA||Essex||1952, 1958||330 MW||2,270,000 tons||8,616 tons|
|Bremo Bluff||VA||Fluvanna||1950, 1958||254 MW||1,477,000 tons||8,543 tons|
|Mecklenburg||VA||Mecklenburg||1992||140 MW||828,000 tons||325 tons|
|Southampton||VA||Mecklenburg||1992||71.1 MW||242,193 tons||75 tons|
|Wise County Plant||VA||Wise||2012||585 MW||N/A||N/A|
In 2006, Dominion's 10 major coal-fired power plants emitted 56.2 million tons of CO2 (0.9% of all U.S. CO2 emissions) and 179,000 tons of SO2 (1.2% of all U.S. SO2 emissions).
Proposed coal unit closures and conversions
Chesapeake Energy Center and Yorktown Power Station closures
Dominion announced on Sept. 1, 2011, that it plans to close two coal-fired power plants, the Chesapeake Energy Center and the Yorktown Power Station, by 2016. Two of the four units at the Chesapeake center would be shut down by 2015 and the remaining two units would likely be closed a year later. The announcement also included plans to shut down one of two coal-fired units at the Yorktown Power Station by 2015 and convert the second coal-fired unit to natural gas. 
Reaction to the announcement included applause from the Sierra Club and others fighting coal power in Virginia. "Dominion has clearly signaled that it's time to shift away from dirty and dangerous sources of energy that affect the lives of every Virginian," said Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. 
North Branch Station
In a December 2010 accord reached with the National Park Service and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Dominion volunteered to close its North Branch Station when the proposed natural gas-fired Warren County Power Station near Front Royal begins commercial operations, which is scheduled for late 2014 or early 2015. Emissions reductions credits from closing the station will be combined with various other offsets to be applied as the emission mitigation plan for the new power station. The agreement is conditioned upon the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board's approval of the air permit for the proposed station, other regulatory approvals and the construction and operation of the proposed station. The air board is expected to vote on Dominion's application for the Warren County air permit at its Dec. 17, 2010 meeting. The company anticipates seeking permission from the Virginia State Corporation Commission in 2011 to build the new power station.
North Branch was put in cold reserve status in August 2010, and has not been generating electricity. Without this agreement, the station could be returned to service in a short time if needed.
Salem Harbor Station
On November 18, 2010, Dominion said it expects to shut the Salem Harbor coal/oil-fired power plant in Massachusetts within five to seven years "as the high cost of keeping up with ever more stringent pollution rules could make it uneconomic to keep operating the plant," a company executive said. Dominion CFO Mark McGettrick also told investors that, in addition to the 738-megawatt Salem Harbor, the company may also close the 515 MW State Line Plant in Indiana. The first of the coal units still operating at both plants entered service more than half a century ago. The environmental regulations McGettrick referred to was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's planned one-hour ozone rule for 2015-2017, known as the Transport Rule: "If that rule goes into effect, we do not plan to install expensive environmental controls at either of those two stations," Dominion spokesman Dan Genest told Reuters.
Independent System Operator (ISO) New England, which operates the regional power grid, could again decide Salem Harbor is needed for "reliability" -- as the ISO has over the past couple of years. Dominion recently asked the ISO to withdraw the plant from the grid's June 2011 forward capacity auction for 2014-15. The ISO is not expected to decide on the request until 2011. Dominion reportedly wants to withdraw from the auction not because the company wants to shut the plant but because the capacity price has been coming down over the past few years. The capacity auction pays power suppliers (and demand response customers who agree to reduce usage) to remain available to maintain the long-term reliability of the grid.
In Feb. 2011, Dominion said it could retire the plant in June 2014 when the 2013-2014 forward capacity contract ends, if it cannot recover the cost of environmental upgrades needed to run after that date. In October 2010, Dominion filed what is known as a "permanent delist bid" that included a request to recover the cost of the environmental upgrades that would have allowed the plant to opt out of the 2014-2015 forward capacity auction. The ISO rejected that bid in January 2011.
In May, 2011, Dominion announced that all four units of the plant, including the three units that use coal, would shut down by June 2014.
State Line Plant
In a May 2011 conference call with financial analysts, Dominion executives announced they had decided that, financially, it is not worth upgrading the State Line Plant to comply with the federal Clean Air Act. The company plans to shutter State Line as early as 2012 and no later than 2014. In its 2011 financial documents, Dominion said it will shutter the plant by March 2012. The company opted in early 2011 to withdraw State Line from an auction for long-term electricity contracts. If it had included the plant in its bid, the company said, it would have needed to spend several million dollars installing new pollution controls, which they did not see as economical.
Three Dominion plants are in the process of converting to Biomass as an alternative to coal. Dominion says that all of the biomass will come from waste wood or rejected material from paper mills and logging companies.  The Southern Environmental Law Center says that biomass holds some promise for improving the environment if safeguards and clear definitions of what constitutes a renewable energy source are put in place. Otherwise, the SELC said, "the use of biomass could backfire, turning mature forests into energy plantations, harming our water and wildlife, and increasing global warming emissions." 
Altavista Power Station
In Feb. 2011, Dominion Virginia Power said it could reopen its 63 MW Altavista Power Station as a biomass electricity plant by 2013, and is starting the approval process. In Fall 2010, Dominion placed the Altavista station on “cold reserve status,” meaning it could be restarted if needed. At the time, Dominion was studying whether to convert the plant to a biomass facility. The study suggested that a biomass facility would be competitive economically against natural gas plants. If the town of Altavista grants Dominion’s special use permit request, the company said it will seek a new air permit and approval from the State Corporation Commission.
Hopewell and Southhampton
In April 2011, Dominion Resources announced that its subsidiary Dominion Virginia Power, has decided use biomass instead of coal in three of its power stations: Altavista Power Station, Hopewell Power Station and Southampton Power Station. The plants will mainly use waste wood left from timbering operations as a source of fuel. If approved by the local authority and the regulators will begin production from the converted units in 2013. The units can presently produce 63 megawatts (MW) power each and are only used when demand is at its peak. After conversion, these units will produce 50 MW each.
Dominion and Environmental Justice
State Line Plant
Immediately across Dominion's State Line Plant border is Chicago’s East Side neighborhood. The plant is about 12 miles southeast of downtown Chicago, with five schools and several parks within a mile of the plant. The neighborhood surrounding the plant is one of the poorest in Greater Chicago, and one of the major Latino population centers in the city, raising issues around environmental justice and coal. State Line is among over 100 coal plants near residential areas.
Chesapeake Energy Center
Dominion's Chesapeake Energy Center has 53,955 residents within a 3-mile radius and 1,311 within a one-mile radius. Within the 3-mile radius, 43.3% of residents are non-white with a per capita income of $16,751, below the U.S. per capita income of $21,587. The plant does not have a scrubber to reduce emissions.
Coal projects sponsored by Dominion
- Dominion Energy (Ohio) - cancelled
- Upshur County Project (West Virginia) - cancelled
- Wise County Plant (Virginia)
120 Tredegar Street
Richmond VA 23219
Dominion Transmission Gas
Dominion Transmission Inc.
445 West Main Street
Clarksburg, WV 26301
Dominion Virginia Power (or Dominion North Carolina Power)
120 Tredegar Street
Richmond VA 23219
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- Robert McCabe, "Former worker: Agency's OK to use fly ash 'unconscionable'" PilotOnline.com, October 3, 2010.
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- "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash" Earthjustice & Sierra Club, February 1, 2011.
- "Damage Case Report for Coal Combustion Wastes," August 2008
- U.S. EPA Proposed Coal Ash Rule, 75 Fed. Reg. 35128
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Related SourceWatch articles
Source Watch has a special clearinghouse on fracking, Fracking for Gas.
- Thomas F. Farrell II
- Illinois and coal
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- United States and coal
- Global warming
- EPA Coal Plant Settlements
- "Dominion announces expansion," News and Sentinel
- Dominion corporate website
- Oil Change International
- Appalachian Voices
- Campaign Money.com
- Marcellus Shale.us
- Common Cause