In the April 5 and final session for 2016, the Virginia General Assembly considered Governor Terry McAuliffe’s amendments to and vetoes of various bills. Two final bills, now law, will make the Potomac River and others healthier for aquatic life, waterfowl, drinking water and recreation.
SB 1398 addressed the disposal of coal ash from coal-fired electricity generating facilities. The new law will help ensure the proper assessment of Virginia’s coal ash storage facilities prior to their closure and imposes a 13-month moratorium on pond closures. “This moratorium will allow Virginians to get complete information on existing pollution, future pollution prevention, recycling of coal ash and closure options before we begin the process of spending over $1 billion dollars to control coal ash pollution, costs that would likely eventually be paid by ratepayers,” wrote the bill’s sponsor, Senator Scott Surovell on his blog, The Dixie Pig.
SB 898 and several other bills addressed Alexandria’s dumping of untreated sewage into the Potomac River, a system dating to the 1800s called combined sewer overflow. The bill passed by the legislature gave the city eight years to build a system to stop the discharge. The Governor signed SB 898 and proposed an additional four years. The General Assembly rejected the Governor’s amendments.