What threatens our air quality?
Coal-Burning Power Plants
Fort Martin Power PlantCoal-burning power plants are the largest single source of major air pollutants in our area. There are seven coal-burning power plants within a 30-mile radius of Morgantown. Two are in Monongalia County, WV: Ft. Martin in Maidsville and Morgantown Energy Associates on Beechurst Avenue in downtown Morgantown. Marion County, WV has power plants in Grant Town and Rivesville. Harrison County has a power plant in Shinnston, and Preston County, WV has a plant in Albright. Greene County, PA is home to the Hatfield's Ferry Plant in Masontown, PA. Many of these power plants were built in the 1960's or earlier. Some of the larger plants (Harrison and Hatfields Ferry) have installed more air pollution control equipment ("scrubbers"), and Fort Martin is in the process of installing scrubbers now (2009/2010). Scrubbers help to clean air emissions but result in byproducts that contain the pollutants removed from the air stream. In additon to polluting the air, power plants produce huge quantities of ash that must be lanfilled locally, and water discharges that can impact major waterways.
New high-voltage transmission lines are also planned for our area. PATH and TrAILCo will result in even more power plants being built in West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania in the future.
According to a report of EPA data published by Environment America, West Virginia ranks 9th in the US for states exceeding the USEPA's annual fine particle health standard for 2004.
Vehicle Emissions and Industry
Vehicular emissions are a second local source of air pollution. Minor sources of air pollution in our area include industry, fireplaces and woodstoves, and other burning.