Closing of AMP-Ohio Plant Mixed Bag

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Definitely a Good News - Bad News Scenario

This week’s announcement that the AMP Ohio coal-fired power plant between Belpre and Marietta will be forced to close by the end of this year, due to long-term air pollution problems, has drawn every kind of emotion and reaction you can imagine.

Those logging on to to leave comments to the story have run the gamut from folks who will lose their jobs, to those who are afraid that the ripple effect from this closing will cost them their jobs, to those concerned about the loss of tax revenues for area schools, and those who wish it had closed years ago.

Certainly, there have been reports for years about Washington County ranking as one of the Ohio counties with the worst air quality. This plant has been a contributor to that but may not be the main one. While a news release about the closing indicated that Valley residents ought to see a dramatic improvement in air quality when this plant closes, I’m not sure that will be the case.
My only hope is that when the plant closes, there will be enough money and manpower allotted to go in and reclaim this property for some other use rather than just letting the plant turn into a rusty trash heap by the river.  It may be that all of the coal and other substances stored there over the decades will make it impossible to use the land for a park or any recreational area. But at least it doesn’t have to become an eyesore.
When it comes to nuclear power plants, most people suffer from the NIMBY complex: Not In My Back Yard.  No one wants a new source of pollution and danger near their homes. But when it comes to addressing air pollution coming from an existing employer, most people want the government and the EPA to leave well enough alone. And who can blame them? The jobs and tax revenues created by this facility have been a part of the local infra-structure for many years.
I feel badly for the folks who will lose their jobs. They‘ve done nothing wrong. Let’s hope there are opportunities that will permit them to stay here and find gainful employment.
I feel badly for the other area industries that may be affected by this closure. They didn’t cause this situation either. Let‘s hope the impact will be small.
I feel badly for the schools and other groups that will suffer a loss of tax revenue when this facility closes. Let’s hope their resourcefulness and creativity can help find other fund sources or more economical ways to operate.
But to the extent that this closure helps to clean up the air here in the Valley we all love, and add to years of life and quality of life among local residents, we can only hope that that impact is quick, obvious and beneficial to us all.
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