Clean Air

Less pollution will benefit W.Va.

Older West Virginians remember a time when the air, especially here in manufacturing centers, could be described best in one word: filthy. There were places in our state where particulate pollution was so heavy it stung the eyes and created daily deposits on anything left outside.

It has been gratifying to many of us who remember those bad old days to witness the gradual yet steady increase in both air and water quality in the Mountain State. This week we hit a milestone.

For the first time since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began monitoring air quality, about half a century ago, the air in West Virginia meets all EPA standards for particulate pollution. Gov. Jim Justice, accompanied by an EPA official, made the announcement last week.

Mountain State residents have seen the improvement with our own eyes. The development is especially interesting to West Virginians who for years have been labeled air quality public enemy No. 1 by many of our fellow Americans.

In truth, we have been better stewards of the air than many of our most vocal critics. That can be see by a glance at one of the air quality maps the EPA maintains (online at https://gispub.epa.gov/airnow/).

You will notice that both particulate and ozone pollution is bad primarily in and around big cities such as Los Angeles, Boston, San Diego, Denver and others (you may want to view the EPA map archive to get a picture not influenced by the California wildfires).

In truth, we in the Mountain State have sacrificed much in the way of prosperity in order to clean up our air. Some other regions of the country have not yet made that sacrifice.

Has the improvement been worth the cost? Most West Virginians would agree it has been, we think. In the long run, our cleaner air and water will benefit the Mountain State economically –perhaps as employees of some high-tech companies wonder why they have to endure urban smog when they could be living and working in Almost Heaven.


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