As background: The Commonwealth of Virginia legislature has passed legislation wherein permitting authority for industrial wind energy projects not exceeding 100 megawatts from the State Corporation Commission to the Department of Environmental Quality. Under the legislation, the DEQ is to develop one or more permits by rule for these projects. The DEQ has issued proposed regulations which are open to public comment, which is due August 20, 2010.
The DEQ provided this brief summary:
“The purpose of this regulatory action is to implement 2009 state legislation requiring the Department of Environmental Quality to develop one or more permits by rule for wind-energy projects with rated capacity not exceeding 100 megawatts. By means of this legislation, the General Assembly moved permitting authority for these projects from the State Corporation Commission to DEQ. By requiring a “permit by rule,” the legislature is mandating that permit requirements be set forth “up front” within this regulation, rather than being developed on a case-by-case basis. The legislation mandates that the permit by rule include conditions and standards necessary to protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources. The proposal establishes requirements for potential environmental impacts analyses, mitigation plans, facility site planning, public participation, permit fees, inter-agency consultations, compliance and enforcement. The legislation requires DEQ to determine if multiple permits by rule are necessary to address all the renewable-energy media. DEQ determined that multiple permits by rule are necessary. This proposal constitutes DEQ’s permit by rule for wind energy projects.”
Mr. Rick Webb of VA Wind suggests the proposed regulations are seriously flawed. Mr. Webb responded to the DEQ’s actions with a comprehensive comment and question memorandum sent to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality today, August 18, 2010.
Mr. Webb granted AT permission to share his response to the DEQ, which we provide here for your convenience:
AT Note: The deadline for public comment is August 20th. The Virginia Register notice lists Carol Wampler as the “Agency Contact,” and provides the following contact info: Dept. of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218, or email@example.com. Comments submitted by email should probably also be sent to Ms. Wampler’s official DEQ email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Webb is a Senior Scientist with the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, where his primary research focus is on the effects of air pollution on streams associated with forested mountain watersheds in the central Appalachian Mountain region. Previously he worked with conservation organizations concerned with the direct environmental effects of coal extraction. He recently co-authored a Landscape Classification System for Wind Project Siting in Virginia and he presently co-maintains the Virginia Wind Website (www.VaWind.org) , which addresses the need for environmental assessment prior to wind energy development. He recently served on a National Research Council committee investigating “Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy.”