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Jefferson County Commission Holds Public Hearing on Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) Project
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by Patience Wait | 2009

Jefferson County politicians seem willing to listen but will Govenor Manchin and his Public Service Commission?

The Jefferson County Commission held a public hearing on a February 9th Monday evening, to give county residents a chance to state for the record their views on the PATH transmission line project.

More than 160 people turned out of which 37 people took the microphone, all of them in opposition. Additionally, a number of residents submitted written statements for the record.  The principal of an elementary school that will be close to the new power line spoke on behalf of his entire school and the president of the Board of Education also spoke.

Individuals’ objections covered all the negatives associated with PATH - those who will lose their houses, fears of health risks, air and water pollution, objections to burning coal, mountaintop removal, property devaluation, loss of county tax revenue, and worries that it will be easier to bring in new lines in the future.

Commission President Dale Manual told the audience that a transcript of the hearing will be sent to the Public Service Commission when the county files as an Intervenor in the PATH application process.

Comments by WV Sierra Club at Jefferson County Commission Hearing on the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH), February 9, 2009:

My name is Paul Wilson and I am a resident of Charles Town and I have been a West Virginia resident for almost 20 years. I was the chapter chair for West Virginia Sierra Club from 2000 thru 2007 when we starting legal actions to stop the 550-Kilovolt Trans Allegheny Interstate Line (TrAIL) Powerline. We have 2000 members in WV and almost 300 members in the Eastern Panhandle the majority of which reside in Jefferson and Berkeley counties.

I am also the grandson of a immigrant West Virginia coal miner who fought for union rights nearly a century ago and who was shot for pro-union activities. Lucky for me, he survived.

More than Twenty years ago a mining practice referred to Mountaintop Removal began in the Appalachian states. Curiously, while numbers of coal miners in West Virginia declined, numbers of acres subject to Mountaintop Removal increased. And currently there are more plumbers in WV than there are coal miners.

The same companies that brought you Mountaintop Removal mining now want to bring you massive new power lines that will hopefully connect to new coal fired power plants that will be fed coal from new and expanding mountaintop removal mining sites.

While Gov. Manchin says Massey Energy’s Don Blankenship does not run this state, the Governor’s support of these power lines indicates he is willing to do the bidding of the coal companies and their coal-fired electric utilities.

Today West Virginia is already exporting about two-thirds of the electricity we generate and 98% of WV’s electricity is coal-fired. So any scheme to increase electricity production, will only increase mountaintop removal, further pollute our air, which is some of the worst in the country, and increase the effects of climate change from ever increasing global warming.

All this to increase the profits of Allegheny Power and coal companies like Massey Energy, while we pay for such folly with increased electric utility rates, decreased property values, increased air pollution and further devastation of West Virginia’s coal-field communities.

It is time to end such folly and strive to diversify West Virginia’s economy with new renewable energy sources like wind, geothermal and solar. We stand opposed to the proposed PATH power line project in its entirety.

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