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Plans for Coal Plant in Surry County halted due to EPA regulations

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Posted at 7:27 PM, Aug 10, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-11 06:48:20-04

A life-long resident of Surry County, Michael Drewry says the battle over the Cypress Creek power plant was never about coal or pollution.

“It’s more than environmental issues, it’s about treating a community well,” said Drewry, who is both an attorney and a local farmer. “I saw a corporation taking advantage of a small town.”

Drewry and others who live in the town of Dendron fought for years to stop the plant built by the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, or ODEC.

Still, the final blow didn't come from them-- new EPA regulations limiting the amount of carbon emissions by coal plants actually forced ODEC to back out for now.

“Glad to see them come to a decision they should have come to a long time ago,” said Drewry.

“Yes” and “No” signs still litter the roads around Dendron, showing how the coal-fueled plant deeply divided the town of 300.

People who supported the project say the company's decision means disaster for the local economy.

“I see the town going downhill,” said Donald Vann, who lives right across the street from the proposed plant site. “What’s really going to be missed is what incomes people could have made over here, what lives would they have been able to make with the money they would have been able to make?’

Vann would have had to deal with the sight of the plant's smoke stacks in his front yard, but he didn't care as long as it gave his three kids a chance for a good job.

“Right now, I think it is the younger generation coming up that is going to lose out,” said Vann.

The plant could still be a possibility if the Supreme Court overturns the EPA's carbon regulations.

Past concerns with the company's transparency also have people worried about what other plans ODEC might have for the property.

“I don't trust them. They have 1600 acres of industrial land that they can do whatever they want with,” said Drewry.

NewsChannel 3 tried contacting ODEC, but they have yet to respond about any future plans for the Surry site.