Golf carts with “DEQ Shuttle Service” banners were parked in front of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in downtown Richmond Wednesday morning.
Protesters putted white golf balls on a mock golf green near a sign reading: “Dominion and DEQ. A Tradition Unlike Any Other.”
The protest, organized by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, was aimed at DEQ director David Paylor, who accepted a $2,300 trip to the Master’s golf tournament in 2013 from Dominion Virginia Power.
DEQ recommended the approval of two controversial permits for Dominion to release treated coal ash wastewater from the Bremo Power Station on the James River 50 miles upstream from Richmond and the Possum Point Power Station into a creek flowing into the Potomac River.
“We want to magnify DEQ’s relationship with Dominion and make sure there’s monitoring of Dominion,” said Barbara Adams, a member of the Richmond Interfaith Climate Justice Council while she watched the putting.
The protest was the latest in a series held by several environmental groups against Dominion’s coal ash plans. Some resulted in arrests.
Several members of the Virginia Students Environmental Coalition met with Paylor on Monday.
“He said his attending the Master’s with Dominion was perfectly legal,” said Laura Cross, a sophomore at the University of Virginia. “We agree that it is legal, but it was inappropriate.”
Regarding the Paylor matter, a DEQ spokesman has said that “all employees of DEQ take their environmental stewardship responsibilities very seriously.”