CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — The entire state of West Virginia is meeting all U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for the first time since 1978. Governor Jim Justice made the announcement during a ceremony on Wednesday, October 21, 2020.
The 1970 Clean Air Act required the EPA to establish NAAQS for pollutants that were shown to threaten human health and the environment. The EPA sets NAAQS for six pollutants: carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide. West Virginia is now the 16th state in the nation to be in attainment with all NAAQS.
“It’s amazing what’s going on in West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “In the past, many people from the outside world might have assumed that we were dingy or dusty or backward in certain ways. But they couldn’t be more wrong. Really and truly, we pride ourselves on taking care of our environment – keeping our air pristine and our water beautiful.”
The Governor was joined Wednesday by the EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Austin Caperton.
“What a truly special and noteworthy occasion,” Servidio said. “This is such a significant milestone for West Virginia. It is the one state in [EPA] Region 3 – the Mid-Atlantic region – that, for the first time since 1978, has attained all air quality standards for harmful air pollutants. That is just incredible.”
Along with this announcement, the Governor also highlighted two water-related grants. West Virginia will receive $24.7 million for water quality improvement projects to address wastewater treatment and stormwater runoff, and $11 million for drinking water improvements. The state will match nearly $4.9 million for the wastewater projects, and $2.8 million for drinking water projects.
Part of this money will be used to upgrade the drinking water system for the City of Ronceverte. More than $3 million will be used to replace two 200,000 gallon water tanks and 2.3 miles of water lines to reduce water loss.