QUALITY CONTROL: Two pollutants make up the bulk of the air quality monitoring oversight by the NC Department of Environmental Quality: ozone and fine particulates (PM2.5). From Bryson City to Lenoir, there are 11 ozone monitoring sites and five sites for PM2.5. The WNC Air Quality Agency conducts monitoring operations in Buncombe County, which also includes an urban air toxics monitor at A-B Tech. New this year is a sulfur dioxide monitor near the Duke Energy Progress plant in Skyland. Image from  Google, mapped by NCDEQ

Air apparent: monitoring air quality in the mountains

We all have to breathe to live, and the good news is that here in Western North Carolina, the quality of the air we all share is much better than it was just a few years ago. Across North Carolina, government employees are monitoring air quality and the associated health risks to make sure they stay within specified legal parameters. Meanwhile, citizen volunteers are also collecting data and working to make more information available to the public.

Judge rules against Duke Energy’s Cliffside plant-attachment0

Judge rules against Duke Energy’s Cliffside plant

U.S. District Judge Lacy H. Thornburg has ruled that Duke Energy must comply with the Clean Air Act for its new unit at the Cliffside power plant. The Dec. 2 order forces Duke to undergo a stringent process to investigate the plant’s likely pollution levels, as well as the appropriate technology to control toxics released from the new coal boiler that Duke says will replace several smaller older units.