SELC Reminds Air Pollution Control Board of Its Authority

On October 23, 2018, the Southern Environmental Law Canter (SELC) wrote to the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board members, reminding them that they have the independent authority to determine whether the draft permit for the proposed ACP compressor station in Buckingham County VA meets the requirements of the federal Clean Air Act and of Virginia law. The Air Pollution Control Board will discuss the proposal at its next regular meeting, on November 8 and 9 in Richmond. The SELC letter states:

This Board also has the statutory obligation to consider whether issuance of the permit is reasonable and whether the proposed location is suitable. If this Board determines that the permit should not be issued, that decision cannot be disturbed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). The Natural Gas Act explicitly preserves states’ authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate air pollution and deny permits. 15 U.S.C. § 717b(d)(2). Dominion is eager to convince state officials that control of the project is out of their hands. But Dominion is wrong. Moreover, we strongly disagree with the Administration’s recent suggestion that the Commonwealth does not have independent authority to enforce the Clean Air Act and to consider site suitability when considering this permit.

The Board’s authority to consider environmental justice and to deny the permit is well within the scope of the Board’s authority and is by no means precluded. Virginia law mandates that the Board, when deciding whether to issue any permit, “shall consider facts and circumstances relevant to the reasonableness of the activity involved.”