Useless input

Published 10:07 am Friday, March 9, 2012

Southampton County officials, who love to oppose stuff, have now decided to meddle in the affairs of a neighboring locality.

At the urging of colleague Ronnie West, Supervisors Alan Edwards, Carl Faison, Dallas Jones and Glenn Updike voted recently to oppose a proposed $5 billion electricity plant in the jobs-starved community of Dendron in Surry County. Isle of Wight County Supervisors Rex Alphin, Buz Bailey and JoAnn Hall did the same.

Southampton Supervisors Bruce Phillips and Barry Porter and Isle of Wight Supervisors Al Casteen and Dee Dee Darden had the wisdom to butt out of a complex debate and let a thorough vetting process play out.

Old Dominion Electric Cooperative’s proposed coal-fired power plant will undergo as intense scrutiny from state and federal regulators as any utility project has ever received in Virginia. Environmentalists will file lawsuits and add even more oversight from the courts. It’s way premature for anyone to be scared for their grandchildren, as West declared in the Southampton board’s rush to judgment.

The fine folks of Dendron, whose leadership unanimously blessed the power plant this week, don’t need Southampton and Isle of Wight supervisors’ 2 cents of advice. Southampton’s resolution of opposition is especially hypocritical, given that the county for years has been home to its own coal-fired electricity plant.

We don’t deny the significant environmental questions the ODEC project poses. Neither do we deny the growing demand for electricity in this state and region and the reality that some entity has to affordably generate it. The two must be balanced and a conclusion reached. Smart people will reach it many years from now.

The Southampton and Isle of Wight boards, with resolutions that failed to unite even their own memberships, have contributed nothing of substance to the debate. Officials in both counties need to keep their noses to the grindstone, deal with their own significant challenges, and stay out of the politics of Dendron and Surry County.