I support the position of Piedmont Environmental Council and share their position:
I strongly oppose the variance, which threatens air quality for Loudoun County and neighboring areas and sets a frightening precedent that large industries can be exempted from environmental regulations meant to protect the public and our environment.
Diesel exhaust has well-known human health impacts, especially on vulnerable populations like children and the elderly, leading to serious health conditions like asthma and respiratory illnesses and worsening existing heart and lung disease. In addition, these emissions further contribute to greenhouse gas emissions from the dramatic increase of fossil fuels resulting in regional ground-level ozone, acid rain, and global climate change.
I am disappointed that DEQ, an agency created “to promote the health and well-being of the Commonwealth’s citizens, residents, and visitors” has not provided an analysis of the potential public health and environmental impacts that could follow such an order.
The variance as proposed is unacceptable, failing to provide an analysis of the impact on the Regional Air Quality Plans for ozone and PM (particulate matter) 2.5 in place to protect public health. DEQ must develop a more acceptable proposal. We need real-time onsite monitoring and enhanced regional air quality monitoring. That monitoring should be tied to an alert system that notifies residents of affected communities when generators are running so they can take precautions.
The Commonwealth of Virginia should have alternative mechanisms for managing electricity load (including reducing demand from data centers) instead of relying on diesel generators. These alternatives need to be available so that public health standards for air quality are not exceeded. And a broader program of monitoring, mitigation, and compensation to affected communities, paid for by the generator operators, should be part of any plan.