Virginia’s Bullseye

One of the prevailing trends first identified in the case literature (e.g news articles) and supported by initial interviews is the role of local government and their bullseye-esque disposition to the Cypress Creek Power Station project. Since the announcement of the project in Late 2008, many of surrounding local jurisdictions have formally declared concern, both officially and provisionally. According to the environmental group Wise Energy For Virginia, the Cities of Norfolk, Williamsburg, and Virginia Beach, along with Isle of Wight and Southampton counties have expressed some manner of concern about the project. Conversely, Surry and Sussex (the alternate site) counties have approved permits for construction to be built. Geographically speaking, what has occurred is that the prospective downwind localities either by their own volition or with the prompting of local residents and outside organizations have declared opposition while the host location is in favor of the plant– thus a sort of bulleye has been created. The center is a different color (disposition) than the surrounding ring.

Our explanation for this occurrence is firmly rooted in the material realities of the plant. First, the positive effects, such as tax revenues and jobs, of the plant are highly localized. Second, potential negative effects, such as pollutant emissions, are geographically disbursed. By combining these two disposition distributions and placing them onto a map should provide understanding as to why some jurisdictions are against the plant whereas others are in support. Granted, the idea is not terribly groundbreaking, however, in the Environmental Justice literature, materiality theories and explanations as a perspective is relatively new ground (as mentioned previously). As the interviewing process continues (we are extending the process into the Fall) and more data is collected we will be able to continue our theorizing and explanation as to the role of materiality in determining the spatial distribution of resistance to coal fired power plants.

–Daniel Casey


  1. pataustria says:

    It is interesting how you mentioned mapping. Governments and organizations all over the world have begun to notice the value of geo-referencing data. In this particular case, I think mapping could be greatly valuable and relatively straightforward. Using income level distribution (or any other indicator) as a base, and spatial distribution of the plants and the resistance towards them as other elements, I’d be interested to see how the research and data illustration progresses.