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 carbon dioxide pollution. The lines would have extended east for 275 miles, cutting through Virginia to their terminus in Maryland.
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.
Earthjustice and the Sierra Club stiffly opposed the PATH project, arguing that the costly transmission lines are unnecessary to meet electricity demand, especially given improvements in energy efficiency and other clean energy initiatives. In 2011, American Electric Power and Allegheny Energy, the two coal-fired utilities behind PATH withdrew their application for the project.