Despite switch to cleaner power source, Rockwool critics remain frustrated

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RANSON, W.Va. (WDVM) — The eastern panhandle industrial project, Rockwool, has decided to power its facility with natural gas instead of coal.

Converting from coal to natural gas at the $200 million industrial project in the is being praised for not emitting the carbon emissions of the mined product.

But while natural gas is a cleaner fuel than coal, opponents of the manufacturing venture insist the reduction of pollutants from the fuel source does not negate the public’s right to know about numerous other environmental permits pending before state and federal officials.

“The way that this has been handled by the DEP (West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection) and Rockwool is indicative of the way they have handled the entire permitting process for this project,” says Dr. Christine Wimer of the Jefferson County Foundation, “which is a lack of due diligence and a lack of transparency.”

“The 150 manufacturing jobs tied to Rockwool are being touted by the town of Ranson as a driver of economic growth. But legislative allies of opponents insist that for two years, while the permitting process plods along, getting answers from the state capital in Charleston has been an ongoing frustration.

“Ever since Jim Justice became governor and told the DEP to start going easy on polluters,’ says Delegate John Doyle (D – Jefferson), “we’ve had to deal with this and this must stop.”

Doyle and Wimer say that Jefferson County citizens are still waiting to hear from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the DEP on the status of the air quality permits.

Meanwhile Ranson Mayor Duke Pierson will be briefing his city council this week. WDVM News will keep you updated on the details of that meeting.

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