National Economic Transition (NET) Platform is much needed

Built on Community-Driven Solutions by Local, Tribal, and Labor Leaders, NET Platform Pushes For Bold Investments in National Transition Program For Those Hit Hardest by Changing Coal Economy

CONTACTS:
Trey Pollard, Just Transition Fund, tpollard@justtransitionfund.org
Cat McCue, Appalachian Voices, cat@appvoices.org

NATIONWIDE – Today, 80 local, regional, and national organizations and leaders unveiled their National Economic Transition (NET) platform to give federal and national leaders and policymakers the framework for an ambitious national transition program that supports the people and places hit hardest by the changing coal economy.

This NET platform was crafted by local, tribal, and labor leaders living and working in coal communities, along with non-profit sector partners, during a year-long collaboration led by the Just Transition Fund.

Amid the sharp decline of the coal sector over the past decade, these community leaders have already developed and implemented local policy solutions that help tackle the climate crisis and spur inclusive, equitable, and sustainable economic growth in places that once relied on coal.

The NET platform presents national leaders with a path to scale up these solutions in coal communities across the country by making a big, bold investment in the platform’s proposed comprehensive national transition program that, when implemented, will create vibrant, resilient, inclusive communities.

This year, U.S. coal consumption is set to decline by more than 23 percent and the closure of more coal facilities will likely be accelerated by COVID-19 and the economic decline. As a result, communities that once relied on coal, like coal mining communities in Appalachia, the Illinois Basin, Montana, Wyoming and elsewhere as well as communities with coal fired power plants from the Navajo Nation to Central Minnesota all face a potentially devastating crisis.

This crisis could mean more job losses, the further erosion of the tax base, and cuts to vital services layered on in places already struggling following previous recessions amid decades of inequality and widespread poverty. This perilous situation makes challenges for low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal communities already disproportionately left behind by the status quo even more significant.

As the national conversation continues to focus on economic development, racial inequity, and the climate crisis, the NET platform gives leaders the opportunity to help address these serious challenges in coal communities by enacting solutions that local leaders already know work.

To address these crises from Appalachia to the Navajo Nation, the NET platform urges national leaders to invest in the development of a national transition program built on seven pillars of policy recommendations that put communities in the driver’s seat, including proposals to:

……….National Economic Transition (NET) Platform……..

>> Develop local leadership and capacity to lead the transition — especially Black, brown, women, and Indigenous-led organizations and community members.

>> Support local small businesses and entrepreneurship.

>> Provide a bridge for workers to quality, family-sustaining jobs.

>> Reclaim, remediate, and reuse coal sites.

>> Improve physical and social infrastructure, including public health and education systems.

>> Hold coal companies accountable during bankruptcies.

>> Create entities to coordinate transition-related programs and equip communities with the resources they need.

Recognizing the community-driven innovation on transition solutions and the need for a coordinated national transition program, the Just Transition Fund launched the NET project in early 2019. With the facilitation of Dialogue + Design Associates, a community engagement and design firm, a diverse planning team of representatives from coal communities across the country worked to draft this platform and refine it over the course of a year through an extensive idea-generation and feedback-gathering process.

That process included a series of in-depth interviews with community leaders and members of coal-impacted communities, an in-person meeting of coal community and transition leaders in June of 2019, three regional stakeholder meetings in Appalachia, the Midwest, and the West, and a digital engagement campaign to gather input from the broader public from coal-affected regions in the fall of 2019.

Community organizations and NET partners released statements in support of the NET platform and are available to discuss its release.

See the comments to appear below ….

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Two proposed gas-fired power plants are the Chickahominy (1600 MW) & C4GT (1060 MW)

State regulators want conditions met before approving contentious gas project

From the Staff Reports, Virginia Mercury, June 26, 2020

The Virginia State Corporation Commission regulates Virginia electric utilities. In an order Friday, this State Corporation Commission imposed conditions that must be met before a contentious natural gas expansion project can proceed.

The Virginia Natural Gas company has been seeking approval to expand its pipeline and compressor station infrastructure in Northern and Central Virginia, primarily to supply a natural gas-fired power plant proposed by C4GT, though that project remains stalled amid “market uncertainties,” the developers say, in the regional PJM power grid’s capacity market.

“Put simply, if C4GT is built, we find that the project is needed. If C4GT is not built, the project is not needed,” the commissioners wrote in the order.

The SCC, which regulates utilities, says it won’t issue an approval for the Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) project until the power plant it will serve provides proof that it has a “firm financing commitment” for construction. The commission will also require Virginia Natural Gas to recover costs for the expansion over “the same time period for which it has contracts with C4GT and other large customers to receive the payments necessary to pay for the project.” And C4GT must “reconfirm all contractual obligations to VNG necessary to pay its share of the header project.”

C4GT is planned to be a “merchant generator,” which means it will sell electricity on the mid-Atlantic states (PJM) market.

“As a merchant plant, C4GT may operate for some years but, if it becomes unprofitable, may shut down, as many other merchant generators nationally have shut down when they became unprofitable. So it is imperative that VNG’s other customers not be left ‘holding the bag’ for the costs of the project should C4GT cease operating before those costs have been fully recovered,” the commission said.

The commission also required Virginia Natural Gas to agree to a “strict cap” on any costs it plans to shift to residential or business customers, comply with all environmental requirements imposed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and file additional information on environmental justice concerns with the project.

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See also: With new energy regime only months away, regulators grapple with gas expansion proposal – Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury, May 19, 2020

Three years after private backers secured state regulators’ approval to build a major new natural gas plant in Charles City County, the fate of the facility has become a key factor in a controversial proposal by Virginia Natural Gas to expand its pipeline infrastructure throughout Northern and Central Virginia.

“The big issue here is risk, and how are we going to allocate the risk and who’s going to be holding the bag if this plant doesn’t get built,” said Judge Mark Christie during a Wednesday hearing conducted via Skype.

The facility, known as C4GT, has been in the works since 2016, when private developers first applied to the State Corporation Commission for a certificate of public convenience and necessity. A combined-cycle natural gas plant, the facility is expected to produce some 1,060 megawatts of power — about two-thirds the size of Dominion Energy’s most recent natural gas plant, the Greensville Power Station, which is capable of powering some 400,000 homes.

Yet despite securing regulators’ thumbs-up in 2017, the project stalled. Last March, the backers asked for a two-year extension of their certificate, citing declining interest from investors in light of changes in the regional PJM power grid’s capacity market.

Since then, Virginia’s energy landscape has also changed significantly.

The passage this spring of the Virginia Clean Economy Act and a law that will join the state to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a carbon cap-and-trade market, have committed Virginia to transitioning off fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources. Mandatory renewable portfolio standards for electric utilities and ambitious targets for solar and wind development are all designed to phase out the use of coal and natural gas by 2045.

“This legislation casts serious doubt on the financial viability of the C4GT plant and the likelihood it will ever be built,” said Greg Buppert, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center representing environmental and consumer protection groups Appalachian Voices and Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, at the beginning of Wednesday’s hearing.

But Virginia Natural Gas, in arguing that regulators should approve its pipeline expansion proposal, dismissed those concerns, seeking instead to focus the proceedings on what it described as a “simple need solution” to its obligation as a utility to serve any customer in its territory that requests service.

“This application is not the place to debate public policy and legislation,” said VNG attorney Lisa Crabtree. “We’re not here to speculate on what will happen in 2045 and beyond.”

The Header Improvement Project regulators have been charged with considering what was first outlined by Virginia Natural Gas this December, when it filed an application with the State Corporation Commission for approval to construct.

The proposal would add about 24 new miles of pipeline to VNG’s system: the 6.2 mile Transco Interconnect Pipeline running between VNG infrastructure in Quantico and the Transco pipeline in Catlett in Fauquier County, the 3.3 mile Quantico Parallel Pipe in Fauquier running alongside an existing company pipeline, and the 14.6 mile Mechanicsville Parallel Pipe running alongside another existing VNG line in Hanover, New Kent and Charles City counties.

Two new compressor stations would also be built: the Transco Interconnect station in Prince William and the Gidley station in Chesapeake, while a third station at Ladysmith in Caroline County would be expanded.

And while three parts of the project are directly tied to C4GT’s operation, three others — the Transco Interconnect Pipeline, Transco Interconnect Compressor Station and Quantico Parallel Pipe — would be required for any expansion of Virginia Natural Gas’ capacity, testified the company’s director of gas supply, Kenneth Yagelski.

Currently, VNG’s system is supplied from the north by an interconnection with the Dominion Energy Transmission pipeline at Quantico that is responsible for providing capacity to about half of VNG’s customers.

An expansion plan submitted by Virginia Natural Gas to the State Corporation Commission to meet the needs of the planned C4GT natural gas plant and increase system capacity. But the Dominion pipeline has no more capacity, said Yagelski, and VNG has concerns about its continued reliability.

“It’s never resulted in an outage to our customers, but we’ve come very close in the past,” he told the State Corporation Commission, and an extended outage “we believe is a possibility.”

That means that for any expansion of VNG’s service, the utility must look for other sources of supply, said Yagelski.

“We’ve often looked at a new connection to Transco at this location for reliability purposes, but it would be very expensive for VNG to justify on its own the 6.2 miles of pipe and the compressor station,” he told regulators. “This is an opportunity for VNG to essentially take advantage of the larger HIP project to get that reliability increase when some of those costs are shared with the other HIP participants.”

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Pennsylvania to Control Emissions of Methane & Volatile Organic Compounds

June 30, 2020

Hearings enable residents to speak on methane emissions From an Article by Rick Shrum, Observer-Reporter, Washington, PA, June 29, 2020 Vanessa Lynch and her husband moved back to the Pittsburgh region following his military service. They thought it was a good place to nurture a family. This is no longer Smoky City Pittsburgh, but she [...]

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Divestment from Fossil Fuels is Essential says Bill McKibben

June 29, 2020

Bill McKibben Interviewed on the Divestment Movement Interview by Steve Curwood, Living on Earth, June 26, 2020 INTRODUCTION — Harvard is one of the latest in a series of wealthy institutions around the world announcing steps towards pulling their investments in the fossil fuel industry. But Harvard’s announcement has been called too little, too late. [...]

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§ Exploring Environmentalism through the World’s Religions

June 28, 2020

Religion and Environmentalism: Exploring the Issues Book by Dr. Lora Stone, University of New Mexico, Gallup, April 14, 2020 It took two years for Buddhist monks and a community tired of litter to build what is now the famous Wat Pa Maha Kaew—or Temple of a Million Bottles—complex in the Sisaket province of northeastern Thailand. [...]

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Environmental Studies Underway to Re-evaluate Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)

June 27, 2020

Forest Service Cautioned Against Relying on FERC’s EIS for the ACP News from the Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance, Update #282, June 25, 2020 The U.S. Forest Service has been cautioned that it should not depend upon the reliability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) developed in 2017 by [...]

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The Time for Natural Gas Fired Electricity has Passed — GHG Damages our Earth

June 26, 2020

The truth about the future of gas: We don’t need to build anymore From an Article by David Wooley, Utility Dive, June 22, 2020 The following is a contributed article by David Wooley, professor at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy and Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Public Policy. What is [...]

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Federal Courts to Decide Whether Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a Boon-Doggle

June 25, 2020

With Supreme Court case over, courts again weigh whether Atlantic Coast Pipeline is needed From an Article by Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury, June 23, 2020 Last week, the Supreme Court handed a victory to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline when it ruled that the U.S. Forest Service had the authority to allow the project to cross [...]

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§ Atlantic Coast Pipeline Seeks to Renew FERC Permit for WV, VA & NC

June 24, 2020

Tell FERC: No Special Favors for Dominion’s Fracked-Gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline From an Article by Laura Greenleaf, Blue Virginia, June 22, 2020 On October 13, 2020 Dominion’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certificate authorizing construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) will expire. Issued three years earlier, the certificate prohibits any construction after that date. [...]

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PART 2. How Extensive is the Chevron Smear Campaign?

June 23, 2020

Part 2. Slip-up reveals Chevron ties to architect of climate attack From an Article by Corbin Hiar, E & E News, June 18, 2020 ‘White environmental extremists’ is an off-base epitaph Derrick Hollie is the president of Reaching America, a nonprofit group whose tax-exempt status was revoked by the Internal Revenue Service in 2017 because [...]

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