Skip to main content

Ending PATH To Coal Power


The high-voltage transmission lines would have extended east for 275 miles, cutting through Virginia to end up in Maryland.

Gyn9037 / Shutterstock

Case Overview

The Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) called for construction of high-voltage transmission lines starting in West Virginia near the John E. Amos coal-fired power plant, which is ranked as one of the dirtiest coal plants in the country for mercury, sulfur dioxide, and CO2 pollution. The lines would have extended east for 275 miles, cutting through Virginia to end up in Maryland.

In their filing, Sierra Club and Earthjustice stressed that the proposed power lines are not needed to satisfy any unmet needs for electricity. Instead, the lines would only have given coal a greater market share of the power mix in the Northeast. According to a statement from the West Virginia Coal Association, the new lines would help "preserve the future" of aging coal plants, encourage development of new coal plants, and increase coal mining in Appalachia. All of this increased coal use would mean more dangerous air pollution and more environmental devastation from mountaintop removal mining, which already has transformed the landscape and historically rich natural system in West Virginia and Virginia, leveling and deforesting an area the size of Delaware and burying an estimated 1,200 miles of streams.

American Electric Power and Allegheny Energy decided to abandon their pending application for approval of the PATH project in Virginia after stiff opposition from Earthjustice and Sierra Club prompted the Virginia State Corporation Commission to order new analyses to assess the need for the power line in light of decreased electricity demand, significant efficiency gains, and a dramatic rise in the availability of demand side management resources over the past few years.

Case ID

1956, 2052

Related Features

Stopping Coal In Its Tracks

Coal states want to create an energy transmission superhighway straight to East Coast power markets, effectively locking the eastern seaboard into dirty, coal-fired power for generations. Abigail Dillen describes how Earthjustice was able to successfully put the brakes on the coal companies’ plans, at least temporarily.

VP of Climate & Energy Abigail Dillen on Ending Coal

VP of Climate & Energy Abigail Dillen discusses Earthjustice's strategy for ending the nation's dependency on coal. Through litigation and administrative advocacy, Earthjustice fights to hold the coal industry accountable for the damage it does to the environment and human health.

Case Updates

October 26, 2009 | Reference

PATH Testimony - George Loehr

Expert testimony was submitted before the Virginia State Corporation Commission on the proposed PATH transmission line.

July 27, 2009 | Legal Document

PATH Notice of Participation

In these papers filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, Earthjustice and Sierra Club argue against the proposed Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline which would bring coal-fired power to new markets in the Northeast.