An embattled $1.8 billion coal plant slated for Wise County, Va., was granted pollution permits Wednesday by a state regulatory board, allowing construction to proceed. The company that will be building the 585-megawatt plant, Dominion Resources, promised local officials it would only source coal from within Virginia; that move is expected to fuel increased mountaintop-removal mining in the state. Air officials were quick to point out that they issued permits for air pollution at drastically lower levels than Dominion had requested — some 80 percent lower for both sulfur dioxide and mercury. As part of the deal, Dominion agreed to switch its oldest coal-fired power plant in Virginia to natural gas. When construction of the new coal plant is finished around 2012, it’s expected to produce some 5.3 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
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